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UN Pushing for Final Libyan Peace Accord by September

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya and Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Bernardino Leon speaks at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Aug. 11, 2015.

As a new round of Libyan peace talks gets underway, the chief United Nations mediator says he believes it is possible to hammer out a final agreement on a unity government for conflict-ridden Libya by early September.

After many months of complex and difficult negotiations, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, Bernardino León, said he saw a light at the end of the tunnel. He said much progress has been made toward reaching an agreement to form a unity government.

Libya is bitterly divided between an internationally recognized government in the eastern city of Tobruk and an Islamist government based in the capital Tripoli. The country has been in turmoil since former dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, was overthrown in 2011.

Some parties to the conflict initialed a peace agreement on July 11. León said he would build on this achievement by focusing on persuading the holdouts to sign on to the unity government accord during this round of talks.

He said one good sign that an accord could be reached during the next three weeks was that all members of the warring factions have come to Geneva and were participating in the new peace round.

“This will very much depend on the political will and on the creativity, on the wisdom of the parties to bring good names, good proposals on the table. So, if this was possible, then the endorsement and final voting and signing of the agreement could happen in the first weeks of September so that the final conclusion of this process can be achieved before we have the U.N. General Assembly,” he said.

León recognized this ideal situation might still prove to be elusive, but he believed everybody now was on board and wants to make it work. He added there were many reasons for the warring factions to finally come together and agree to peace.

“What Libya is facing now is deeper chaos and division of the country. So, I hope all the Libyan actors will be wise to avoid this scenario to expedite the talks and to reach an agreement very soon. I think it is extremely risky to reach October without an agreement because we will be in a more chaotic situation,” he said.

León said the political side of the negotiations was more advanced than the security aspects. He said he planned to gather members of the army and militias around the negotiating table. He said it was essential to have military support and to have measures for implementing security arrangements as part of the final accord.