Libya’s rival factions gathered on Monday in Tunisia for the beginning of the much-awaited political peace talks brokered by the United Nations, with a goal of drawing a roadmap to presidential and parliamentary elections.
The U.N. had selected 75 delegates from Libya to take part in the six-day forum in the Mediterranean town of Gammarth, just outside the capital of Tunis.
Tunisian President Kais Said attended the talks' opening ceremony, calling the forum “historic by all measures.” Said added the U.N. efforts aim to set “clear measures and specific dates” to reach “a peaceful solution” to Libya’s conflict.
Said called on those who will lead the transitional period to refrain from running in the next presidential or parliamentary elections.
“There is no room for dividing Libya. Some talk about East and West, but the Libyan people are one," he said. “The solution is for the Libyan people to regain their full sovereignty.”
Stephanie Williams, the top U.N. official in Libya, sought to temper expectations from the Gammarth talks. These negotiations “will not resolve all of Libya’s problems, but if we fail to solve any of them, future resolution becomes impossible,” she said.
A new government, expected to be created by the ongoing U.N.-brokered talks, would “launch national reconciliation, combat corruption, and restore public services.” Williams added.
Just ahead of the talks, she told journalists that “Libya now has an excellent opportunity which will allow it to get out of the conflict tunnel, if all the interlocutors assume their responsibilities and respect their commitments at the end of this dialogue.”