UN envoy says Libya talks will continue despite clashes

Bernardino Leon tells Al Jazeera that a political agreement is the only way forward as rivals meet for talks in Rabat.

    Bernardino Leon said reaching a political agreement between the country's rivals was the only way forward [Reuters]
    Bernardino Leon said reaching a political agreement between the country's rivals was the only way forward [Reuters]

    The UN special envoy to Libya has warned against a military solution to the country's crisis, calling on political rivals meeting for peace talks in Morocco to remain engaged in talks.

    UN envoy Bernardino Leon told Al Jazeera on Sunday that reaching a political agreement between the country's two rival administrations and allied militias was the only way forward after fierce clashes erupted in and around the capital Tripoli in recent days.

    "We have spent the whole day in consultations with the parties and have been insisting there is no military solution for Libya," Leon said.

    "The situation in Libya has deteriorated in the last day and a half... and obviously it has had an impact on the dialogue.

    "For the moment no one is leaving. We have had a difficult moment after these attacks. The worst possibilities were either cancel the dialogue or to lose some delegations, which will have a similar impact. The delegations are staying no one is leaving." 

    Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from the Moroccan city of Rabat, said the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC) administration, which has been hesitant of the talks, was looking for assurances that the violence, including air strikes would stop.

    RELATED: What is not being discussed about Libya

    On Saturday, the UN-recognised Tobruk government launched air raids against airports and a military camp in Tripoli, killing Salah Burki, a senior commander loyal to the GNC, officials said.

    After urging the parties to stay, Leon said on Sunday that the mood was positive with plans to expedite the talks.

    "The UN is insisting on expediting the talks," he said. "The documents [concerning the creation of a national unity government and security arrangements] might be ready tomorrow or after tomorrow and then we expect to start the next stage of the talks."

    Peace talks between Libya's rivals factions have dragged on for months but with little results as fighting continues to escalate.

    In an effort to address the crisis, Libyan delegates have been meeting with Leon in Rabat in what has been described as one of the last chances to stop the country from plunging into a full-scale civil war.

    RELATED: Are more arms the answer for Libya?

    Libya's UN-recognised government was driven out of Tripoli last year and has been confined to the small eastern city of Tobruk, while the GNC, a legally-installed rival parliament, operates out of the capital Tripoli.

    The country has grown increasingly polarised since longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed more than three years ago, as clashes rage between armed groups and rival parliaments.

    Since the end of Gaddafi's one-man rule, the country has failed to build up a national army and efficient state institutions and is now effectively dominated by former rebel brigades who disagree over how to govern Libya and share its oil wealth.

    More than 400,000 people have been displaced by fighting with the country's three main cities, Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata, largely controlled by militias.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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