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Monday, January 17, 2022

US: Elections would Improve Situation in South Libya

The United States (US) Special Envoy for Libya, Richard Norland, said the insecurity and poverty in southern Libyan serve as another reason why elections need to occur as soon as possible, “so a unified national government can get to work in the interest of all Libyan citizens.”

“Speaking with the Presidential Council Deputy Chairman Kouni on the phone today, I emphasized US support for a path to elections within the original timeframe of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) Roadmap and endorsed by the United Nations (UN) Security Council,” the US ambassador tweeted on Friday.

Last week, Norland said that a number of conflicting Libyan candidacies appeared relatively late in the election process and spurred fears of violence erupting. He stated that this could have been a motive for a temporary halt of elections.

In statements to the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, the US Ambassador said that Libya is now going through a period in which the “goodwill” of its leaders, who claim they are committed to holding elections, will be put to the test. However, Norland warned that flippant leaders might find a million reasons to delay the vote.

He also reiterated the US’ support and said that Washington would continue to coordinate with international partners. “Free, fair, and inclusive elections can lead to a democratic government that best serves the interests of the Libyan people”, Norland concluded.

Notably, the Libyan National Army (LNA) forces started a wide and comprehensive military operation in the southern regions to impose security, the Commander of Southern Operations and the Sabha Military Region, Major General Al-Mabrouk Sahban, stated

The US ambassador added that, the first phase of the military operation targets all violators in terms of random construction, drug trafficking, smuggling, “illegal immigration” and the spread of armed groups.

The second phase targets illegal fuel stations, which distribute smuggled fuel at high prices. The phase will not start until after fuel is available at all stations licensed by the Libyan state.

Libya failed to hold its first presidential election as planned this month. This was a major blow to international efforts to end a decade of chaos in the oil-rich Mediterranean country. The vote is aimed at initiating a unified government in the country, with hopes of lasting peace after years of conflict.

The postponement of the December 24th vote opened up uncertainty over what comes next in the tenuous peace process, raising worries Libya could slide into a new round of violence.

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