No polls in Libya before national reconciliation, says Conte

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Rome, 28 July (IANS/AKI) Elections in Libya — Italy’s former colony — should not take place until warring factions in the turmoil-wracked country achieve reconciliation, populist premier Giuseppe Conte told daily Corriere della Sera in an interview on Friday.

“I have said to Emmanuel Macron (France’s president) that Italy is not in favour of forcing the situation and will not back any ill-considered moves in Libya – elections should only be held after the country’s rival factions have reconciled,” Conte stated.

His comments came after a visit to Libya this week by France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to drum up support for a deal to prepare for polls in the war-torn country that its main political leaders have agreed to hold in December.

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At a major international peace conference in Paris on 29 May, the leaders of Libya’s four key factions agreed to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on 10 December, to establish the constitutional basis for elections and adopt the required electoral laws by 16 September.

The four leaders included premier Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the UN-backed unity government in Tripoli, 75-year-old military strongman Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army militia dominates the country’s east, the Tobruk-based parliament speaker Aguila Saleh; and the head of Libya’s Council of State advisory body, Khaled al-Mishri.

The four men, who represent a large chunk of Libya’s rival factions, also agreed to “accept the results of elections, and ensure appropriate funds and strong security arrangements are in place”.

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