A Divided Nation Struggles Through ‘a Decade of Suffering and Hope’
A decade after former U.S. President Barack Obama’s invasion, Libya remains torn apart and threats of factional violence persist, Mohammad Yunus Almenfi, chairman of the presidential council that governs the internationally recognized Libyan government, told the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.
“Libya is going through a decade of misery and hope,” Menfi said.
While Menfi insisted that his people “proved to the world that despite the challenges they represent a united nation”, he called on the United Nations for the remainder of his speech to step up efforts to stabilize Libya and make national elections possible, Add to that complaints about outside powers plundering Libyan wealth and supporting a “stubborn stance” that “pushes our country into armed confrontation”.
“Neither the individual interests of different countries involved in the situation in Libya, nor the proxy wars and different views on how to resolve the situation in Libya, have given us the opportunity to develop our own national path,” he said.
Menfi acknowledged that talks between Libyan factions “have not yet reached agreement on the constitutional rules that should be observed in parliamentary and presidential elections”.
“These rounds of talks should not continue indefinitely. The presidential council is prepared to intervene in the political process if necessary to break the deadlock,” he said.
United Nations pronounce Libya reached a “stalemate” last month, urging the leaders of rival governments in Tripoli and Tobruk to “take immediate steps to defuse their political impasse that is spreading into increasing violence”.
Former Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Debeba refused to step down, while Prime Minister Fati Basaga, appointed by the rival eastern government, sought to gain power in Tripoli. Since late August, militias loyal to Dbeibah and Bashagha have been clashing in the streets of Tripoli, reportedly killing dozens and wounding hundreds.
The United Nations made the same pessimistic assessment as Menfi, that Libya’s rival government and militant factions could not reach agreement on even the most basic issues of establishing an “electoral constitutional framework.”
The most promising development on the Libyan political scene is a ceasefire, which has largely been a few street fights in Tripoli, give or take some action.
Another positive sign, Menfi said, was the resumption of “gas and oil production in all regions of Libya,” which he saw as a boon for the world at a time when gas prices were high. He called for “transparent and fair management of oil revenues belonging to all Libyans”.
As Menfi points out, oil money can – and has been – a “source of conflict” as rival factions try to seize oil fields or steal revenue.
“Our goal is to keep public funds from becoming a source of conflict and to allow them to benefit all Libyans in every corner of the country, regardless of geographic, political or other distinctions,” he said.