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UN Hopes April Conference Will Prevent War in Libya 


Ghassan Salame, U.N. special envoy for Libya and head of the U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), delivers a speech at the mission headquarters in the capital Tripoli, March 20, 2019.

The U.N. will sponsor a conference on Libya next month that could spell out the details of the long-awaited elections in the divided and troubled country.

“If the opportunity presented by the National Conference is not seized, then we will be faced with only two options: prolonged stalemate or conflict,” special envoy Ghassan Salame told the Security Council by videoconference from Tripoli Wednesday.

He said the conference scheduled for April 14-16 in Ghadames is an opportunity to “step back from the edge of this precipice.”

The leaders of the two rival administrations have agreed to set the stage for general elections and have also discussed a possible power-sharing agreement.

But a recent surge in violence and the threat of all-out military conflict has put a damper on any goodwill that might have developed.

Salame told the Security Council that the humanitarian situation and infrastructure in Libya are deteriorating at an “alarming rate” and that water production in the largely desert country is “particularly fragile.”

He said 823,000 people, including a number of migrants and children, need humanitarian aid.

Libyans carry a giant national flag in the capital Tripoli during a celebration to mark the the upcoming eighth anniversary of the Libyan revolution that toppled Moammar Gadhafi, Feb. 25, 2019.
Libyans carry a giant national flag in the capital Tripoli during a celebration to mark the the upcoming eighth anniversary of the Libyan revolution that toppled Moammar Gadhafi, Feb. 25, 2019.

Libya has been in social and political turmoil since dictator Moammar Gadhafi was toppled and killed in 2011.

A Western-backed administration in Tripoli and a rival pro-military government in the east are jockeying for power and control of the country’s oil wealth, along with a number of armed militias.

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