GAMMARTH, (Tunisia): The UN launched talks among Libyans on Monday aimed at creating a unity government and preparing for elections to bring peace after a decade of violence in the North African country. The 75 delegates, selected by the UN to represent existing state bodies and groups from across Libya's political and social spectrum, met in Tunisia after months of relative calm and a key ceasefire deal in October.
"You have the opportunity to end a tragic conflict," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told delegates in a video message at the opening ceremony. "Now it's your turn to shape the future of your country."
Libya has seen a decade of violence since the 2011 toppling of dictator Muammar Qadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising, with a complex web of regional conflicts exacerbated by foreign interventions.
But October's ceasefire deal between two rival administrations in the east and west has allowed for economically vital oil production to resume and spurred progress on efforts to end years of political deadlock.
This week's talks at a luxury hotel in Gammarth, near the Tunisian capital Tunis, aim to unify Libya under a single interim executive and pave the way for national elections. As well as preparing for national polls, the interim executive will face the daunting challenges of providing basic services in a country wracked by economic woes and the coronavirus pandemic.
Peter Millett, a former British ambassador to Libya, told AFP the most important task of the talks was to agree a timeline for elections.