UN launching final push to salvage Libya political agreement
NEW YORK CITY - The UN envoy for Libya told the Security Council Wednesday that he is launching a new, final push to bring Libya's rival leaders on board a 2015 political deal that set up a unity government.
Ghassan Salame said he believed there was "very little chance" of agreement on amending the deal that established the UN-backed government under Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.
"However, starting tomorrow, I shall commence a new, and final attempt to realize the amendments," said Salame, who briefed the council by video-conference from Tripoli.
The United Nations has launched a plan to bring stability to Libya through elections this year that are meant to turn the page on years of turmoil since the 2011 ouster of Moamer Kadhafi.
Despite the 2015 deal, Libya remains divided between the UN-backed government in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east that enjoys support from Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
One of the main stumbling blocks has been the inclusion in the UN-backed administration of Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army dominates the east.
The UN plan "does not depend on these amendments and certainly the closer Libya is to elections, the less relevant these amendments become," Salame said.
"For the United Nations, working for the conduct of fair, free and credible elections before the end of this year is at the top of our priorities," he said.
Some 2.5 million Libyans have registered to vote but new election laws have yet to be drafted and plans for a constitutional referendum have stalled.
After eight months in the job, Salame said he was "truly disturbed" by the widespread corruption in oil-rich Libya.
The north African country produces well over 1 million barrels of oil a day but there is no economic recovery.
"This system must be shattered. Resources must flow into building a strong equitable state for all, and not in the pockets of the few," said the envoy.
The UN mission in Libya is also holding talks with armed groups on a strategy to be unveiled by May on reintegrating fighters into civilian life.