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'Libya will be rebuild through its institutions': UN envoy

UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame hopes Libya can be rebuilt [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 November, 2017

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War-torn Libya must be rebuilt through its institutions, says the UN envoy to the country, as diplomats struggle to find a way out of the fighting.
UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame says the way out of the chaos for the war-torn country is through its institutions.

Ending war in the country will require the efforts of all parties and rebuilding state institutions will give Libyans a better stake in their futures and reunite the people, he said.

"The key to my approach is institutions," Salame told AFP.

"If in a year or two, we can began to reunite, revive and liberate institutions, then the country will be on a different path."

The Lebanese academic who has served as UN envoy for five months told AFP if Libya follows this course then the country will be reunited.

There are still divisions that need to be overcome in uniting Libyans, he said.

"The basic competition between individuals, who tell you they represent big tribes until you discover that they represent very little."

UN efforts to unite the country have so far fallen short of expectations. In 2015, a political deal was supposed to end the fighting between the UN-backed government in Tripoli and the rival authority in the eastern city of Tobruk with the formation of a unified government.

This has not been realised and the fighting continues. 

Part of the reason Libya remained divided after the fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 is that the dictator "cemented his power by systematically destroying institutions", Salame said.

If these can be rebuild, Libya might have some chance of achieving a lasting peace.

Yet Salame's plans for elections in the country and drafting a new constitution have been put on ice.

"The country is not ready for any election. For elections to be held, there are technical, political and security conditions that have to be met. None of these are currently there," he said.

"Under current conditions elections could lead to more divisions not less."

Effectively the country is now divided between three governments, following the formation of the third UN-backed authority in the 2015 deal.

"I don't want a fourth government [in Libya]," Salame said.

"Main actors [must] make a commitment that whoever is elected will replace what currently exists, and will not be added on to what currently exists."

Agencies contributed to this story.

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