TRIPOLI (Reuters) – The leaders of Libya’s two legislative chambers will meet in Geneva next week for last-ditch talks on a constitutional basis for elections, the United Nations said on Thursday, but analysts see little prospect of a breakthrough.
National elections have long been held up as a crucial element in any long term solution to Libya’s decade of chaos and conflict since the 2011 NATO-backed ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.
Presidential and parliamentary elections that were planned for December 2021 as part of a peace process after a truce in the civil war in 2020 fell apart at the last minute because of disputes over the rules.
Libya’s rival factions have since come to a standoff over how to move the political process forward and who should rule the country in the meantime.
The eastern-based House of Representatives parliament said in December that the Tripoli administration of prime minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah had expired and it announced a new political roadmap and appointed Fathi Bashagha to replace him.
However, Dbeibah has rejected the parliament’s moves and refused to hand over power, leaving Bashagha unable to enter Tripoli or take over control of government.
Under an internationally recognised 2015 political agreement, major decisions need the involvement of both the House of Representatives and another legislative body, the High State Council, which is in Tripoli.
The United Nations has been facilitating talks between the two chambers in Cairo to try to bridge their differences and find agreement on how to hold elections to resolve the crisis.
However, the U.N. special adviser to Libya Stephanie Williams said the final round of talks between delegations from the two chambers ended this week without a breakthrough.
The talks between parliament speaker Aguila Saleh and HSC head Khaled al-Meshri, announced by Williams on Twitter, may represent a last chance at diplomacy for now.
Although all sides have said they do not want or expect another round of warfare, tensions between rival factions in western Libya have shown signs of escalation in recent weeks.
(Reporting by Omar Fahmy; writing by Lina Najem and Angus McDowall; editing by Jason Neely, William Maclean)