“Libya is at a critical juncture – indeed a defining moment,” Mohamed Younis Menfi, President of the Presidency Council of the Government of National Unity, told world leaders during his in-person address to the UN General Assembly’s annua debate.
“Either we succeed in our democratic transition through free, fair, and transparent elections, the results of which are acceptable to all … or we fail and relapse into division an armed conflict,” he said, setting out a host of challenges to the country faces ahead of the polls.
Ceasefire holds, but challenges remain
Mr. Menfi said that despite heading off attempts to undermine the ceasefire and resolving any disagreements among the Libyan parties, and despite working with the joint military committee to open the road linking eastern and western parts of the country, “the issue of removing mercenaries and foreign forces from the country remains a real challenge.”
“In this regard, we call on the international community to shoulder its responsibility in supporting efforts to address [the challenges posed by foreign forces], with a view to securing the conducive environment for safe free, fair and transparent elections,” he said.
Since assuming Office, the Presidency Council, he said, had made considerable strides to ensure full implementation of agreed commitments, particularly the road map that is a product of the political dialogue, relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and the so-called Berlin Process, the German-facilitated effort supporting UN mediation to end the conflict in Libya.
“However, we are faced with serious challenges and fast-paced developments which compel us to consider more realistic and practical options to help avoid a political impasse that could undermine the upcoming elections and put us back at square one,” he said.
National talks followed by an international conference
With all this in mind, the President of the Presidency Councill made two announcements. First, he said that he would proceed on a track aimed at maintaining the political process and sparing the country further complex political crises.
This would focus on meetings among the stakeholders represented by relevant military and political institutions to facilitate an agreement on effective guarantees to maintain the political process and conduct free and fair elections with results acceptable by all Libyans.
“Working along this track requires a spirit of compromise from all, a spirit of responsibility and placing the interests of the State above all,” he stressed.
He noted that over the past years, Libya had seen several international initiatives and proposals aimed at resolving the crisis, none of which had enjoyed the necessary conditions for success.
So, he continued, to restore the sense of purpose and ensure that any future initiative would be Libyan-owned and Libyan-led, he announced a plan to host an international conference in October.
“Building on the previous outcomes on Libya, [the proposed conference] aims to ensure the continuation of international support in a unified consistent and coherent manner according to a comprehensive national vision” he declared, adding that the conference would be attended by relevant international bodies, as well as regional and international partners.
Mr. Menfi went on to stress that national reconciliation would be critical to any political process and to achieving political stability. Therefore, the Libyan leadership had made this its utmost priority. It had established the High Commission for national reconciliation and launched the comprehensive reconciliation on 6 September.
He said many steps were being taken to restore trust among Libyans, the first which was the exchange of detainees and the release of a number of prisoners who had either served their sentences or been found innocent.
“But we all know that the road to reconciliation is long and arduous and to get to the end, applying transitional justice, truth, openness, acknowledging past wrongs, reparations and identifying the missing are all necessary. Only with these steps can we move toward a successful genuine national reconciliation,” he concluded.
Full statement in Arabic here.