Guterres stresses importance of elections in Libya

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that next month’s elections in Libya are an essential next step on the road to peace and stability.

This step has to be built on a strong foundation of inclusive and credible frameworks that can guarantee its success, he told the Paris conference on Libya in a video message.

“I strongly urge Libyans to come together in a spirit of national unity, to overcome remaining differences, and forge a consensus on the legal framework for the elections, in consultation with all relevant national institutions, adhering to their rules and procedures,” Xinhua news agency reported citing the UN chief as saying.

The majority of Libyans support holding these elections. Nearly 3 million people have registered to vote so far. Their aspirations and determination to participate in free and fair elections must be met. Women and young people must be able to participate equally and meaningfully in the electoral process, both as voters and candidates, he said.

“Individual ambitions cannot stand in the way of Libya’s peaceful transition. And I call on all Libyan parties to participate in the election process, and to respect the election results,” he said.

The presence of foreign elements in Libya’s internal political and security affairs is a continued grave concern, and all foreign interference must end, said Guterres.

He commended the 5+5 Joint Military Commission for its remarkable unity of purpose and the concrete progress it has achieved. He welcomed the agreement on an action plan for the gradual, balanced, sequenced, and synchronized withdrawal of all mercenaries, foreign fighters, and foreign forces.

Now the plan must be implemented. And this requires the support and cooperation of all concerned stakeholders. The regional dimension of the withdrawal of foreign fighters cannot be overstated, he said.

All Libyan and foreign actors must fully support the 5+5 Joint Military Commission and respect the arms embargo in Libya. UN member states cannot defend Libya’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity at UN Headquarters in New York and practice the opposite in Libya, he said.

“We also need to extend our collective focus to supporting national reconciliation efforts, and to building and strengthening rule-of-law institutions founded on human rights. Libyan authorities have the responsibility to protect all people in Libya, including migrants and refugees. I am deeply concerned about the dire conditions that refugees and migrants continue to face in detention,” he said.

There is also a need for transparent and equitable management of Libya’s wealth, as a starting point for the inclusive, sustainable development Libyans so desperately need, he added.

Libya today is closer than it has been for many years to solving its internal crisis and breaking the cycle of political transitions, said Guterres.

“We cannot miss this opportunity. I urge all those with power and influence over the situation to put the nation’s well-being and prosperity ahead of their own personal interests. Any party that deliberately undermines or sabotages peace must be held accountable.”

The UN remains fully committed to working with Libyans, the African Union, the League of Arab States, the European Union, and neighbouring countries at this crucial time, he said.