Time is running out for Libyans to find a binding solution to end almost a decade of conflict, the United Nations acting envoy said, warning against the continued presence of foreign fighters only there for “their interests.”
Speaking during talks that seek to unify the Tripoli-based government with its eastern rival, Stephanie Williams described a litany of ills including a liquidity crisis, raging coronavirus outbreak and “foreign actors who are behaving with complete impunity.” The OPEC nation has been engulfed in violence since the 2011 revolt that ousted Moammar Al-Qaddafi.
“There are now 20,000 foreign forces and/or mercenaries in your country. That is a shocking violation of Libyan sovereignty,” Williams said, according to a UN statement. “You may believe that these foreigners are here as your guests, but they are now occupying your house.”
Conflict in Libya in recent years has morphed into a proxy war in which internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has received Turkish backing in a confrontation with eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar, who’s supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russian mercenaries.
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Earlier talks have yielded agreements for a cease-fire and to hold elections for a unified government in December 2021.
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Williams said $1 billion in investment is needed to revamp the electricity sector and avoid a “complete collapse” of the country’s power grid.
“This is very difficult now because of the divisions in the institutions, and because of the epidemic of corruption and this kleptocratic class that is determined to remain in power,” she said.
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