Libya's warring parties want peace, says UN envoy as talks begin

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Bernardino Léon, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

The UN’s special envoy for Libya said talks are under way to find a solution to the country’s turmoil before warning those determined to carry on fighting that "their time was finished".

Bernardino Leon told journalists it was too early to discuss whether the Geneva talks would be successful since some participants had yet to decide whether to take part.

But he expressed optimism that the talks were taking place amid a relative calm in the fighting:

"I would like to think that it is because we are having these talks and both sides are trying to show goodwill; all fighting groups in Libya from both camps tell us, 'We don't want to fight, we want a political solution, we prefer a political solution'…It is very important to enhance that a small group of people, if this is the case, who don't believe in political dialogue and political settlement and who think that the solution is war…, their time is finished."

The UN representative said the talks had two objectives: to come up with a political settlement that was "acceptable for all Libyans" and secondly to find a way to stop the fighting since Libya "is falling very deeply into chaos" he said.

He added that in addition to the military and political chaos, the country’s ailing economy made the need for a solution even more urgent.

Rather than imposing decisions on Libyans the UN special envoy stressed the need for the meeting’s proposals to be legitimised by Libya’s municipalities if they were to work.

The talks in the Swiss city come after months of preparatory meetings with groups in control of Libya.

The oil-rich north African country has been split since the ousting of leader Muamar Ghadaffi in 2011.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1’41″

 

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