Libya peace talks resume amid continued violence

U.N.-sponsored peace negotiations between Libya’s officially recognized government and the rival government were resumed on Thursday 4 June. Politicians and activists negotiated on forming a unity government to end the power struggle between the two rival governments both stressing to be the official government of the country. Mediators fear the power struggle may turn Libya into a failed state when both groups continue to battle for control.

Draft proposal

U.N. Special Envoy for Libya, Bernardino Leon returned to Libya to mediate between the two fractions. Earlier attempts at peace talks by the envoy failed. However, at the last talks in Morocco, all groups agreed on 80 percent of an agreement, while negotiators continue working on the remaining 20 percent. The talks between political parties, activists, and representatives from Libyan regions are meant to solve disagreements on a draft proposal for a unity government before a broader meeting in Morocco next week. "To not reach an agreement and continue the confrontation is not an option," the U.N. special envoy for Libya, said at the talks in Algiers.

Libya’s neighbouring states and Western governments express their concern saying these talks will be the only way to resolve the conflict between the two rivalling governments. They fear the Islamic State may establish a strong base at the Libyan coast, which will bring them in a position just across the Mediterranean.

Conflict

U.N. Special Envoy for Libya, Bernardino Leon said that ‘’the country is really at its limit,’’ referring to the current state of the North African country. Libya has known a turbulent four-year period after the ousting of former President Muammar Gadaffi triggered a conflict on who will rule the country. The conflict has hit the oil industry, and allowed the Islamic State to gain foothold in several regions in Libya. Also, the Libyan coast line is used by migrants fleeing the continent by crossing the Mediterranean See, casting concerns on the growing stream of migrants trying to reach European soil, with the death toll rising.

Tripoli is currently in control by the General National Congress, which is backed up by the Libyan Dawn, an group said to be made up of a variety of Islamist militias. Hence, the internationally recognized government, the House of Representatives, operates out of the city of Tobruk in the east of the country and is backed by forces loyal to Khalifa Hifter, a former general in Gadhafi’s army. Both sides are under pressure as the oil reserves of the country stagger causing depleting government revenues that pay for salaries and foods subsidies.

Andrew Engel, an Africa analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said: “Libya is like a big jigsaw puzzle. You just have to put it back together piece by piece, and you do that by engaging the tribes, the Shura councils and the municipal councils.”

Sources: Reuters; Ibtimes; Washington Post

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