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UN May Mediate Libya Peace Talks

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2015 photo, U.N. Special Envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon, center, arrives in Tripoli for meetings.

U.N.-mediated Libya peace talks aimed at reaching a political solution to end the fighting in the conflict-ridden country are expected to get underway this week at U.N. headquarters in Geneva.

The capture of Libya’s Tripoli International Airport by armed militia in August highlighted the ferocity of the fighting among rival factions, which has engulfed the country since the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi’s government in 2011.

The unity among the warring factions, which succeeded in ousting the country’s long-serving dictator quickly evaporated after his death. Now two opposing governments and two parliaments, each backed by rival heavily armed militias are competing for power.

U.N. Spokeswoman Yvette Morris tells VOA the United Nations is hoping to break this deadly logjam.

“The U.N.’s special envoy, the secretary-general’s envoy for Libya, who is also the head of the United Nations support mission in Libya, Bernardino Leon, hopes that the talks could help to lead to the formation of a unity government that enjoys wide support and pave the way toward a stable environment in which a new permanent constitution can be adopted. He is also hoping that the talks will put in place security arrangements that will help to bring an end to the armed hostilities raging in different parts of Libya,” said Morris.

Previous talks repeatedly postponed

But no date has been set for the talks to begin, although they are expected to get underway later in the week. A round of talks scheduled for December 9 was repeatedly postponed because of intensified fighting between the internationally recognized government and Islamist militias.

But the U.N. Support Mission in Libya, which is hosting these talks, believes this time the warring factions will stick to their word and meet.

U.N. envoy Leon is calling for the parties to freeze their military operations during talks. He says this will help efforts to restore stability and prevent a further slide toward deeper conflict and economic collapse.

He warns the parties not to let this opportunity slip by, as it may be their last, best chance for achieving peace.