UN Libya Envoy Says Failure to Hold Peace Conference Will Fuel Military Conflict

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According to the UN Special Envoy to Libya, a peace conference will occur in the next few weeks. However, date, place or participants have not currently been outlined.

Failure to hold a national reconciliation conference will encourage those who seek a military solution to the conflict in Libya, warned Ghassan Salame, UN special envoy on Libya on Friday.

"If this were to be allowed, Libya's progress will be set back years and almost certainly open the door to those who believe there is only a martial solution to Libya's woes," he said, via video to the UN Security Council from Tripoli.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi visits The Desert is Not Silent exhibition of Libya's ancient and contemporary art. File photo - Sputnik International
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A peace conference, if it should be held later this month, would be viewed by the UN as a precursor to upcoming presidential elections intended to end the ongoing conflict.

Although Salame did not provide date and place for a conference, he assured the Security Council that he is doing everything possible to allow the event to take place "in the coming weeks."

Salame said that it is vital that the conference is held "in the right conditions, with the right people."

The special envoy did not elaborate on what he meant by "the right people," however. There are at least three major powers fighting for control of the country: the Government of the National Accord, which controls western parts of the country; General Khalifa Khaftar, who controls eastern sections, and Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the murdered leader, said to have power in southern parts of Libya.

Alongside these three, there are numerous smaller militia groups who recently broke a four-months-old ceasefire killing 10 and injuring over 40, according to a report by The Guardian.

"We can fight fires, but eventually there will be an inferno that cannot be extinguished," Salame said, referring to clashes between militias.

"We must go beyond and tackle the underlying dysfunctionalities of the Libyan state. The political deadlock has been underpinned by a complex web of narrow interests, a broken legal framework and the pillaging of Libya's great wealth," he noted.

The UN envoy refrained from pointing to those he believes are holding the peace process back, but the UN has imposed sanctions on several militia leaders.

An armed supporter of the Libyan opposition shoots a machine gun at a poster with the image of Muhammar Gaddafi in the captured rebel town of Ras-Lanuf in the east of the country - Sputnik International
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Salame also stated that the Security Council must end "foreign interference," which prevents the country from achieving peace. He did not elaborate on this point, but it is known that General Khaftar recently embarked on a campaign against forces said to be supported by Turkey and Qatar, according to The Guardian.

The envoy called on the Security Council to ease an arms embargo, to allow Libyan security agencies to equip themselves to effectively tackle terrorists and armed groups.

Salame admitted that law enforcement currently lies in the hands of armed groups, instead of government security agents.

Libya has been embroiled in chaos following a 2011 NATO intervention, which resulted in the overthrowing and murder of the country's leader Muammar Gaddafi, who had ruled over the northern African nation since 1969.

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