Will Libya’s Prime Ministers Meet To Settle Diferences?

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The UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Libya (SASG), Stephanie Williams said the country’s rival prime ministers may hold direct talks, to resolve the ongoing political crisis.

Williams told Bloomberg that there’s been “positive feedback” from the two PM’s. This is after she was asked if the Parliament-backed Premier, Fathi Bashagha and incumbent, Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba had agreed to sit down for talks.

“The good thing is that everyone is ready to engage in constructive dialogue, and that’s what we need to build upon,” she said on Thursday.

Williams said the UN favours neither side and is “not in the business of endorsing or recognizing governments.” She described holding elections as “the only way out of the Libyan political crisis,” and “essential to renew popular legitimacy for Libya’s institutions.”

“I started this year saying that I thought if everyone sort of leaned in, we could get an electoral event by June. But the two chambers decided to sort of do their own thing. And this has now taken us to the middle of March,” said Williams. “So I can’t provide a firm timeline until we work with the two chambers to produce the constitutional basis, and revise the electoral laws.”

The current surge in global oil prices “has advantages” for Libya, “but it also makes the struggle over access to power and resources, all the more stark. Oil in Libya is both a blessing and a curse.”

Concern is growing that Libya might be plunged back into chaos, after a UN-backed peace process stumbled in late December, when elections were postponed. Lawmakers elected Bashagha to lead a new government, after Dbaiba refused to cede power.

Bashagha, a former interior minister has signalled that he plans to take office in Tripoli, within days. There’s been a mobilization of some of Libya’s most powerful armed groups, raising the possibility that the country could again fracture between duelling administrations, as it did for years after 2014.

In an interview this week with the Associated Press, Bashagha said the country could be unified, and avoid fighting. As well as reiterating that his government will focus on holding elections soon.

He was sworn in this month, after lawmakers deemed Dbaiba’s government expired.