Representatives from Libya’s warring factions have withdrawn from UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva, raising concern about the political situation in the country.
Representatives from warring factions in Libya have suspended participation in United Nations-led peace talks. The announcements were made despite assurances from the UN that negotiations would still go ahead.
The peace talks aimed to bring an end to over 10 months of fighting between Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) and the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). However, in a press conference Khaled al-Mishri, President of the High State Council of State, stated representatives would not take part in talks until progress was made in military negotiations. Members of the council emphasised political dialogue is not possible whilst attacks on Tripoli continue and the number of those displaced increases.
Ahmaida Erouhma, leader of the LNA’s Geneva committee, also announced on Monday that his committee would no longer take part in talks after five of his chosen delegates were not approved by the UN.
These developments came just hours after the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) announced that senior military officials from both sides had agreed to submit draft ceasefire agreements to their respective leaderships before participating in talks next month. Ghassan Salame, head of UNSMIL, announced that political talks will go ahead despite hostilities on the ground.
The GNA’s decision is largely in response to the bombing of the Port of Tripoli by Haftar’s forces. Fayez al-Sarraj, GNA Prime Minister, condemned Haftar as a war criminal in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday. He also criticised the inaction of the international community, for failing to halt violence that has so far claimed over 1,000 lives and displaced at least 140,000.
Efforts by the UN to reconcile the warring parties in Libya and create a dialogue that will end the ongoing violence have lasted almost a year. Many of the talks have focused on economic issues, including a fairer distribution of Libya’s oil wealth. Many are concerned about the recent deterioration of talks, arguing the political situation in Libya is dependent on UN security and military negotiations.