UN says a new round of Libya peace talks to be held on January 5

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A new round of peace talks aiming to end the fighting in Libya will be held on January 5 after the warring factions appear to have agreed a path forward, UN diplomats said Tuesday.

Chad's envoy to the UN, Mahamat Zene Cherif, whose country holds the Council's rotating presidency this month, said after closed-door discussions that the roadmap contained three points.

He did not outline details, but said one element was "a national unity government which would be composed of representatives from the two camps."

Another UN Security Council diplomat said the plan also set out a ceasefire as well as a withdrawal of all militias and the disarmament of the warring sides.

UN special envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, voiced his "deep concern" over the deteriorating situation in the north African country in a video address to the meeting.

He called for "an immediate ceasefire" and for all sides "to commit to a dialogue," Charif said.

The Council also voiced concern about the amount of weapons flooding into the country despite the embargo imposed on Libya, and gave their full backing to Leon's peace bid.

Almost four years after a NATO-backed war ended Muammar Gaddafi's one-man rule in 2011, Libya is struggling with instability as two rival administrations compete for power and warring armed factions skirmish for control of territory, especially oil sites, across the North African state.

Vying for legislative authority are the newly-elected House of Representatives, the internationally recognized government headed by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani, which convenes in Tobruk, and the Islamist administration, which continues to convene in Tripoli.

A first round of talks was held in September, but ended with no result. More talks had been planned for this month, but were repeatedly postponed.

The UN human rights office said Tuesday that recent fighting has killed hundreds of civilians and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

The conflict has driven at least 120,000 people from their homes and caused a humanitarian crisis, said a joint report by the UN human rights office and UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) that also documents shelling of civilian areas.

According to the report, an estimated 100 people have been killed in fighting between rival armed groups in Warshefana, near Tripoli, between late August and early October, and 170 have been killed in fighting in the Nafusa mountains to the southwest.

Meanwhile, some 450 people have been killed in Benghazi since fighting escalated in mid-October. Hospitals in the city have been hit or occupied by armed groups.

"Violations are continuing with impunity. There has been no effort to stop them," Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN human rights agency, told reporters in Geneva.

She warned that many of the abuses being committed across Libya "may amount to war crimes."

Amnesty International said in a report late October that both pro-government and rebel militias vying for control of western Libya are committing war crimes including torturing detainees and targeting civilians.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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