40 countries urge Libya to resolve military crisis
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Forty countries and three major organizations urged Libya’s feuding political leaders on Thursday to peacefully resolve the political and military crisis gripping the north African country.
A statement issued by the chairman of a high-level meeting convened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the annual meeting of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly said the political polarization and military conflict are posing “a dangerous and significant threat” to the country’s transition to democracy.
Libya has grown increasingly lawless and has been witnessing the worst bout of violence since the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Weeks of fighting among rival militias has displaced more than 300,000 people.
The latest violence, which erupted in July, forced Libya’s elected House of Representatives to convene in the eastern city of Tobruk after Islamist-allied militias seized the capital, Tripoli, and the country’s second-largest city, Benghazi. The militias, meanwhile, formed their own government and revived Libya’s outgoing parliament in Tripoli.
“The political transition process is facing its biggest challenge since the revolution,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “We must do our utmost to reverse this course and help the Libyan people safeguard their democratic transition.”
The political mission in Libya said Sunday that the rival groups agreed to hold talks on Sept. 29, an initiative welcomed by the participants.
The U.N. announcement said a joint UN-Libyan committee would oversee a future ceasefire. The mission urged the rivals to agree on a timeline to pull out fighters and armed groups from major cities, airports and other key installations.
Participants at Thursday’s meeting — including Libya’s neighbors, key Arab nations, the U.S., Russia, the African Union, European Union and Arab League — “reaffirmed the international community’s firm determination to uphold Libya’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and unity.”
Participants said Libya must also take the lead role in addressing the growing threat of terrorist groups.
They warned that “the growing presence and influence of radical and terrorist groups intent on exploiting the growing political and security vacuum in Libya as a major threat to the stability of Libya and the wider region, but also to international peace and security.”
The participants took note of support for the Sept. 29 meeting from the president of the House of Representatives.
The president, Agila Saleh Essa, told Thursday’s meeting that parliament members welcome the upcoming dialogue as well as an Algerian initiative to organize a dialogue involving eminent personalities and key figures across party lines next month.
Essa said regional and international support has not resolved the crisis, and the government is now seeking “more creative and unconventional solutions, especially when the security situation is deteriorating with every passing day, and the prospect of civil war is looming on the horizon.”
He said the government is looking forward “to a real and effective engagement in Libya in order to achieve tangible progress in the democratic transition and build a state of institutions and law.”