Libyans begin Switzerland process for interim premier

The acting UN special envoy for Libya on Monday facilitated the launch of a five-day meeting to choose an interim prime minister and a three-person presidency council bringing bitter opponents together ahead of national elections scheduled for Dec. 24, Anadolu Agency reported.

Stephanie Williams said: "I am encouraged by the high number of nominations that you put forward, and I welcome the diversity represented by the pool of candidates who are drawn from all political and social components of the Libyan society.

"This is the kind of competition that can only take place when the guns are silent," she said at the start of the meeting of the Libya Political Dialogue Forum at an undisclosed destination in Switzerland near Geneva on the future of the resources-rich North African country.

Williams said that a year ago, such a meeting would not have been possible in the conflict-ridden country.

READ: UN announces candidates for temporary Libyan government

This week's meeting "is to form a temporary government composed of patriots who agreed to shoulder and to share the responsibility to put Libyan sovereignty and the security, prosperity, and welfare of the Libyan people above narrow interests, and far from the specter of foreign interference," said Williams.

On Jan. 19, 2020, Algeria, China, Egypt, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Turkey, Congo, Britain, and the US along with UN representatives adopted a plan aimed at removing foreign fighters from Libya and abiding by the UN arms embargo.

Williams said the UN aims to keep the sessions as interactive as possible with full health measures such as wearing masks, keeping physical distance, handwashing, and others to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The session will be broadcast live to the Libyan public in an "open and transparent selection process that all Libyans are going to witness day by day and minute by minute.

"This is your opportunity to ask some hard questions of these candidates," said the UN envoy.

"For instance, will they honor the commitment to hold national elections on Dec. 24 of this year? Will they put the interests of the people first and foremost, especially those who have been displaced for these many long years?"

READ: Libya to open oil hub in London

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Based in the capital Tripoli and currently led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, the Government of National Accord — the country's legitimate government — was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement.

Last October, Libya's UN-recognized government and warlord Khalifa Haftar's forces reached a nationwide cease-fire, but the government has documented several violations by Haftar's militias.

International efforts for a permanent political settlement, however, are still underway.

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