UN chief visits Libya to bolster election push

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Libya Wednesday ahead of a conference aimed at paving the way for elections to help end years of chaos 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 NATO-backed ouster of longtime ruler Moamer Kadhafi.

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

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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