Libyan leaders agree to form new unified government

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Three key Libyan leaders said on Sunday they had agreed on the “necessity” of forming a new unified government that would supervise long-delayed elections.

A political process to resolve more than a decade of conflict in Libya has been stalled since an election scheduled for December 2021 collapsed amid disputes over the eligibility of the main candidates.

The leaders are the president of the Presidential Council (PC) Mohamed Menfi, the head of High State Council (HSC) Mohamed Takala, who are both based in Tripoli, and Aguila Saleh, speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR) in Benghazi.

In a joint statement, the three leaders also called on the UN Mission in Libya and the international community to support their proposals.

They said they had agreed to form a technical committee to “look into controversial points”.

They met in Cairo at the invitation of Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

“The measures that were agreed upon today, we believe, are a very important beginning. They are results that live up to the ambition of Libyans to hold elections,” Menfi told the media after the meeting.

Menfi came to power when the Government of National Unity (GNU) under Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah was installed through a UN-backed process in 2021, but the parliament no longer recognises its legitimacy.

Dbeibah has vowed not to cede power to a new government without national elections.

Libyan conflict and international diplomacy

The House of Representatives was elected in 2014, while the High State Council was formed as part of a 2015 political agreement and drawn from a parliament elected in 2012.

Last week, Central Bank governor Sadiq Kabir wrote to parliament asking it to approve a new unified government and a national budget over GNU extent spending.

International diplomacy to resolve the conflict in Libya has focused on pushing for parliamentary and presidential elections to replace the interim political institutions, including the HoR, HSC and GNU.

While all major political players in the country have called for elections, many Libyans doubt they genuinely seek a vote that could remove most of them from power.

Libya has had little peace since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising, and it split in 2014 between eastern and western factions, with rival administrations governing in each area.