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UN unveils new peace plan for Libya

The United Nations (UN) has launched a new initiative to break a political stalemate and help bring about peace and stability in Libya.

Ghassan Salame, the newly-appointed Libyan envoy to the UN, proposed the “Action Plan for Libya” in a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

The measure reportedly aims to amend a current political agreement in the North African country and prepare the ground for a constitutional referendum and possibly general elections afterwards.

“Libyans want a process that they themselves own and lead,” Salame said, adding that the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) “remains the only framework to end the Libyan crisis. The LPA is necessary but in its current state is not adequate. The first stage of the process is to amend the agreement.”

Salame said Libyans deserved “an end to uncertainty and unpredictability,” noting that the proposed plan was “in essence, a synthesis of their hopes and goals.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed optimism that the plan could serve as an opportunity to unify Libya and end the long-running conflict there.

“I am… convinced that today there is an opportunity to end a protracted crisis that has caused immense suffering and contributed to the instability beyond Libya’s borders. We must all seize this moment,” Guterres told the meeting. “It is my deep belief that circumstances are now created in a way that allow for a solution to be possible.”

Guterres also outlined a series of priorities that the world body aimed to consider for Libya, including a unified command structure and improvement in the provision of goods and services to Libyans.

Fayez al-Sarraj, the chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya, addresses the United Nations General Assembly, at UN headquarters in New York City, September 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

In an address to the General Assembly, Fayez al-Sarraj, who is Libya’s prime minister and the head of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), said parties at the meeting had agreed on the need for a government with authority over all of the oil-rich country.

He also said, “Everyone present reaffirmed that the backdrop for a solution must remain a political one.”

Sarraj said he had called on the UN envoy to “present us with a timeline and a clear message aimed at all those attempting to impede this process,” also stressing that, “They must understand there is no military solution.”

Libya has been grappling with violence and political uncertainty since the oil-rich country’s former rule, Muammar Gaddafi, was deposed in 2011 and later killed by militants. A US-led NATO military intervention exacerbated the unrest at the time.

A member of the self-styled Libyan National Army, loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, rides in a tank as it drives down a street through the rubble in Benghazi’s central Akhribish district following clashes with militants on July 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The conflict-plagued country has had two rival administrations since mid-2014, when militias overran the capital and forced the parliament to flee to the Libya’s remote east.

Sarraj’s government, which emerged as a result of the LPA, has sought to unify powerful factions, but despite support from the United Nations, it has been struggling to assert its authority since it began work in Tripoli in March 2016.

A rival administration, which is based in Libya’s remote east and with which strongman Khalifa Haftar is allied, refuses to recognize Sarraj’s government.

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