UN postpones conference in Libya due to fighting
The United Nations (UN) has postponed a conference in Libya that had been meant to discuss the possibility of holding elections in the country, as fighting between rival domestic forces continues near the capital Tripoli and elsewhere.
UN special envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame announced on Tuesday that the two-day conference — which had been due in the southwestern town of Ghadames on April 14-15 — would not be held according to schedule because of the fighting.
“We cannot ask people to take part in the conference during gunfire and airstrikes,” Salame said, adding that the meeting would take place “as soon as possible,” without specifying a date.
Libya has an internationally-recognized government seated in Tripoli, the so-called Government of National Accord (GNA). But the GNA has been unable to exercise state powers over the entire Libyan territory, where militia groups have been active since an uprising against the then-dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Another major power faction that lays a claim to power is based in the city of Tobruk, in Libya’s east. It has its own quasi-army, led by self-styled General Khalifa Haftar.
Last week, Haftar ordered his forces to advance on the capital, in what seems to be an attempt to unseat the GNA.
On their way to Tripoli, Haftar’s forces have overtaken several oil fields and towns, but have faced stiff resistance from forces loyal to the GNA near Tripoli, where they have been stopped. The situation is deadlocked, and fighting continues despite international calls for an end to hostilities.
The GNA has carried out airstrikes against the positions of Haftar’s forces, which call themselves the Libyan National Army (LNA). The LNA also conducted one airstrike against the Tripoli airport on Tuesday.
Later that day, the GNA called the attack on the airport a “war crime” and a violation of “all national laws and international agreements,” and ordered the military prosecutor’s office to issue arrest warrants for Haftar and those collaborating with him, according to Al Jazeera.
The news network said Fayez al-Sarraj, the prime minister of the Tripoli-based government, has instructed prosecutors to prepare the arrest warrants.
Sarraj and Haftar had previously participated in UN-brokered reconciliation talks. The offensive on Tripoli has dampened chances for peace and risks plunging the country into civil war.