Strife-torn Libya begins 2016 with a ray of hope and the possibility of rediscovering peace in unity, the top United Nations envoy to the country has stressed in a New Year's Day message as he held talks with a cross-section of political leaders.
"Last year may not have been the luckiest one for Libya, but as it ended with the signature of the Libyan Political Agreement, a ray of hope has finally appeared on the horizon," the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Martin Kobler, said in the message.
Mr. Kobler facilitated the Agreement to form a Government of National Accord with a Presidency Council, Cabinet, House of Representatives and State Council, in talks between the factions in Morocco last month, in a bid to end four years of factional fighting that has killed many Libyans and left nearly 2.4 million in desperate need of humanitarian aid.
Over the past two days Mr. Kobler, who is currently based in neighbouring Tunisia, visited Libya as part of his efforts to broaden support for the Agreement, meeting with the President of the House of Representatives, Agila Saleh, on Thursday.
“I am encouraged by the meeting with President Agila Saleh, and I welcome his acceptance in principle of the Libyan Political Agreement as the political framework for Libya," he said, describing the discussions in Shahat near Al Bayda, eastern Libya, as excellent and frank.
He welcomed Mr. Saleh's intention to meet with Prime Minister Fayez Serraj to discuss remaining issues on the army, formation of the new Government and its location.
He also had a long and constructive telephone discussion with General Khalifa Haftar on the way forward, and said he is convinced that the overwhelming majority of the Libyan people support peace.
"Building on this positive momentum, I look forward to bringing the actors even closer together in the coming days and weeks to work on paving the way forward to bring about the much anticipated peace and security that Libyans deserve," he added.
"There is no doubt that the year ahead will be one filled with hard work, but it will also be a year of opportunity. An opportunity for Libya to rediscover peace in unity, with a single unity Government and a single set of legitimate institutions," said the envoy.
In the Libyan capital, Tripoli, Mr. Kobler exchanged views with members of the General National Congress (GNC) group, and discussed the situation in the town of Sirte, where the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has asserted control.
“I agree with the GNC delegate from Sirte – Sirte is dying, and the United Nations position here is clear: this has to stop immediately. We must save Sirte,” he said.
Yesterday, Mr. Kobler visited a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Tawergha who have been uprooted since the 2011 revolution that overthrew the dictatorship, listening to their concerns and pledging all possible efforts to work on the return of all IDPs to their homes in 2016.
“The most important topic of the Government of National Accord is to urgently address the security situation in the country to allow all families to return home and children to go back to their schools,” he said.
In his New Year's Day message, Mr. Kobler underscored the opportunity to restart Libya's transition towards a democratic State based on the principles of peace, prosperity, freedom and human rights for all.
"Thanks to the sincere and selfless efforts of the brave patriotic sons and daughters of Libya, the country has now got an opportunity to put an end to the crisis," he said.
"The United Nations, supported by the international community, will continue to facilitate it (the Agreement), offering support to Libya on its quest for peace and national reconciliation. I wish all Libyans the strength and the courage to seize that unique opportunity and to unite in peace."
Last month the UN Security Council unanimously called on the new Presidency Council to work within the 30 days prescribed by the Agreement to form a Government of National Accord, and finalize interim security arrangements.