Italy hosts Libya conference to push new U.N. peace plan
Italy will host a Libya conference that starts on Monday and aims to push forward a new U.N. plan to stabilize the troubled North African country after a initiative to hold elections next month failed, Reuters reports.
Last week, U.N. Envoy Ghassan Salame officially abandoned a Western plan to hold national elections on Dec. 10 as way out of conflict that has raged in the oil producer since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Instead the United Nations, which has been trying to mediate for years, wants to hold first a national conference to reconcile a country divided between hundreds of rival armed groups, tribes, towns and regions.
Western powers that helped topple Gaddafi then left Libya to its chaos, letting militias and radical Islamist groups grow.
But worried about it turning into a source of instability on the shores of Europe, European powers have recently paid Libya more attention, and diplomats hope the two-day meeting in the Sicilian city of Palermo will keep up that interest.
France hosted a summit in May during which the main Libyan rivals pledged to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in December.
But weeks of fighting between militias in the capital Tripoli, as well as deadlock between rump parliaments in Tripoli and the east, has made that plan unrealistic.
Italy hopes the conference will help keep pressure on Libyan players to overcome their divisions.
The OPEC oil producer has two governments, a U.N.-backed administration in the capital and a largely powerless eastern version aligned with influential veteran commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces control much of the east.