Libya peace talks resume in Geneva

2015-01-26 15:22
Libyan police officers set up checkpoints in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. (Mahmud Turkia, AFP)

Libyan police officers set up checkpoints in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. (Mahmud Turkia, AFP)

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Geneva - A new round of peace talks between Libya's warring factions resumed in Geneva on Monday as the country continued to sink into chaos.

During a first round of UN-mediated discussions in the Swiss city earlier this month, warring factions from the strife-torn country agreed on a roadmap to form a unity government.

The UN's envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, had warned as the talks first opened on 14 January that they were a last-ditch effort to prevent all-out chaos.

He warned that Libya was becoming a hotbed of Islamist insurgency, echoing concerns by Libyan officials and world leaders.

The north African nation has been wracked by conflict since the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 uprising, with rival governments and powerful militias battling for control of key cities and the country's vast oil riches.

Talks continued Monday with participants from a range of groups and representatives of civil society.

But the Islamist-backed Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) militia alliance, which took over Tripoli last summer, was not officially taking part.

However, it did declare a ceasefire with Libya's army following the 15 January agreement, and some of the group's high-level officials from cities beyond the capital, including Misrata, were in Geneva for the negotiations.

Ahead of Monday's talks, The UN's Libya mission Unsmil appealed to all sides "to approach these talks... in a spirit of openness and reconciliation that is guided by the higher national interest of the Libyan people."

In addition to the main political track resuming on Monday, the UN said another meeting would be taking place in Geneva later in the week bringing together municipal and local council representatives from cities and towns across Libya to discuss "confidence building measures and ways to implement them".

Unsmil said it also planned to convene a number of other tracks at a later stage.

"These will include representatives from Libyan political parties, social and tribal forces, as well as the armed groups," it said in a statement.

The internationally-recognised government and elected parliament decamped last summer to the country's far east after Fajr Libya seized Tripoli and set up its own administration.

The first round of talks appear to have done little to calm the situation on the ground.

On Sunday, gunmen disguised as security forces kidnapped a Libyan deputy foreign minister from his hotel room in the eastern city of al-Baida, where the recognised government is based.

Read more on:    un  |  muammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  security  |  north africa

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