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UN chief visits Libya ahead of election conference

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres discusses Libya during a meeting in Tunisian [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 3 April, 2019

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The Secretary-General of the United Nations arrived in Libya on Wednesday to support Libya's ongoing peace process.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Libya on Wednesday ahead of a conference aimed at paving the way for elections in the country.

"I have just arrived in Libya, totally committed to support a Libyan-led political process leading to peace, stability, democracy and prosperity for the Libyan people," Guterres said on Twitter.

The UN has announced an all-party conference expected for April 14-16 in western Libya to draw up a roadmap towards elections and out of the turmoil it has faced since a 2011 uprising.

The national conference aims to fix dates for legislative and presidential elections in the North African state, which has been torn apart by military, political and tribal feuds since the 2011 NATO-backed ouster of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Libya's internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, is rejected by a rival administration in the east of the country that is backed by Khalifa Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army.

Forces loyal to Haftar are preparing to advance on the country's west, including the capital Tripoli, a spokesman said on Wednesday. LNA military operations in the country's south have seized key oil fields.

Unity government leader Fayez al-Sarraj and Haftar agreed at a February meeting in Abu Dhabi to work towards organising elections.

"To avoid any major confrontation and to create the conditions to stabilise the situation in Libya, it's essential to unify the institutions of Libya," Guterres said in Cairo before flying to Tripoli.

"We hope that the conversations that took place between Sarraj and Haftar in Abu Dhabi and the understanding will be an important step to guarantee that, and that this can be consolidated by a national conference."

The visit by Guterres was the first by a UN Secretary General to Libya since 2014.

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