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Libya hosts international conference to build support for crucial elections

By Amanda Morrow - RFI
Libya Mahmud TURKIA AFP/File
OCT 21, 2021 LISTEN
Mahmud TURKIA AFP/File

Libya is hosting an international conference Thursday to help build stability in the deeply divided country ahead of crucial presidential elections in December. 

Some 30 delegations are travelling to the capital Tripoli. Among them are representatives from the United Nations, European Union, African Union and the Arab League.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will attend, including officials from regional powers including Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Algeria. 

Taking places under a UN peace process that seeks to end a decade of conflict, the polls are seen as a pivotal moment in bringing democracy through a credible transition of power.

While the presidential vote will take place on 24 December, legislative elections have been delayed until next year amid bitter disagreement over legal and constitutional rules.

RFI correspondent Aabla Jounaïdi reported heavy security in Tripoli, with the coastal road leading to the luxury Corinthia Hotel, where the conference is being held, completely closed to traffic. 

Stark divisions
Libya is being crippled by an east-west divide. The parliament is based in the eastern city of Tobruk, while the rival High State Council, which acts as the senate is in Tripoli.

The legislative vote had been due to take place in tandem with the presidential election, but the Tobruk parliament said they would instead take place at the end of January.

It is hoped the international conference will help the rival Libyan sides find common ground, given the wrangling has cast doubts over the viability of December's presidentials.

Jounaïdi said there are worries interim Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dbeibah would use the conference to postpone the elections in the hopes of remaining in power a while longer.

Foreign powers have supported various sides of Libya's complex war, and the presence of 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries is one of the biggest obstacles to peace.

Wednesday marked one decade since dictator Moamer Kadhafi was ousted and lynched by an insurgent mob, bringing a violent end to his 42-year reign of power. 

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