UN envoy urges start of Libya election process early 2019

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Libya should start the process to hold an election in spring 2019 only after a national conference to discuss conflicts, U.N. Special Libya Envoy Ghassan Salame said on Thursday.

Four of the war-torn country's rival leaders had earlier agreed this year to conduct parliamentary and presidential elections on Dec. 10, with postponements and contradictions in the months since the pact "simply intended to waste time," U.N. envoy told the U.N. Security Council via videolink from Tripoli, dpa reported. The plan to hold a vote in 2018 was abandoned because of violence and political divisions. "Countless Libyans are sick and tired of military adventurism and petty political maneuvers," Salame said. He called for a national conference in the first weeks of 2019, followed by a start to the electoral process in the spring. He cited a poll that showed that 80 per cent of Libyans insist on having elections.

Libya has been dogged by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the death of the strongman Moammar Gadhafi after more than four decades in power. Since then, the country's stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power, one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli, and a host of heavily-armed militia groups. Italy is hosting a two-day summit bringing together representatives from Libya's warring factions in Palermo, Sicily, next week. The head of Libya's U.N.-backed government, Fayez al-Sarraj, urged the international community to find a "common vision" for the chaos-hit North African nation, ahead of crisis talks in Sicily.

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