Talks on Libya's future adjourned on Sunday without naming a new government to oversee a transition to possible elections next year, and acting U.N. envoy Stephanie Williams said there was a lot of work still to do.
The 75 participants chosen by the United Nations to meet over the past week in Tunis had already agreed to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Dec. 24 next year.
However, the talks ended without any agreement on a unified executive authority that Williams had said was required to reach elections.
"Ten years of conflict cannot be resolved in one week," she said at a news conference after the talks finished.
Delegates will resume talks online next week to discuss a reformed structure and role for the executive authority, Williams added. They will also discuss the question of a constitutional basis for the election.
The talks come as part of a wider peacemaking process along with a military cease-fire agreed between the two main sides in the war: the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and putschist General Khalifa Haftar's so-called Libyan National Army (LNA).
However, many Libyans are skeptical about a process that has followed nearly a decade of chaos and bloodshed and repeated previous efforts to resolve the country's divisions.
In 2019, putschist Gen. Haftar, who was backed by Russia and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive to seize Tripoli.
But after a year of bloody stalemate on the edges of the capital, his forces were repelled by GNA forces boosted by Turkish military support.
Military talks led to a formal cease-fire deal in October, and recent developments on parallel economic and political tracks have raised hopes for progress.
Williams said Sunday she was "very pleased with the outcome" of the Tunisia talks.
But observers have noted major obstacles to a lasting solution.
Jalel Harchaoui, a Libya specialist at the Clingendael Institute in The Hague, warned that foreign interests could easily derail the process.
"The U.N.'s biggest difficulty is that there are permanent Turkish and Russian military bases and Emirati officers on the ground," he told AFP.
But the U.N.'s former envoy to Libya and the architect of the current U.N. process, Ghassan Salame, told AFP on Friday he had higher hopes than ever for peace, citing "an accumulation of positive factors".
He noted that Libyans were increasingly hostile to foreign interference and the presence of mercenaries.
Williams on Sunday vowed to push onwards with the necessary steps for naming an interim executive.
But Harchaoui noted that for such an administration to be accepted, "there need to be names for each of the main posts."
"Until this step is fulfilled, a deal won't lead to anything concrete," he said.
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