The 75-member forum represents the main regions of Libya, each to be represented on a three-member presidential council.
Delegates from opposing sides of Libya have launched a five-day meeting to choose an interim prime minister and a three-member presiding council in a crucial attempt to reunite the struggling oil-rich country ahead of the December elections.
The Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, which includes envoys from across Libya, met on Monday under UN mediation at an undisclosed site outside Geneva in hopes of stabilizing a country that is in largely lawless since the fall and murder of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The rally, which will select from an agreed list of candidates, ends a process started in Berlin in January 2020 for a North African country mired in international interference and pockets of violence despite a ceasefire.
The voting process is being mediated by the UN Secretary General’s Acting Special Representative for Libya, Stephanie Williams. The interim authority that is chosen will seek to rebuild state institutions and lead Libya to national elections on December 24.
The 75 Forum delegates, who cover Libya’s fractured political forces, should work for their country’s future and not for their own interests, Williams said.
“This project is not about sharing power or dividing the pie,” she told assembled delegates. “They [the Libyan people] need you to be successful, don’t let them down.
The warring factions also agreed that a national referendum would be held on constitutional provisions, laying the legal basis for the December vote.
The 75-member forum represents the three main regions of the former Libya, Tripolitania in the west, Cyrenaica in the east and Fezzan in the southwestern part of Libya – each to be represented on the presidential council. The Prime Minister must be chosen by collecting 70% of the votes.
Twenty-four candidates are running for the presidential council. These include Aguila Saleh, speaker of the eastern-based House of Representatives, and Khaled al-Meshri, the head of the Supreme State Council of the Tripoli-based government.
Among the presidential candidates is Libyan top judge Mohammed al-Hafi, whose candidacy has sparked controversy. The country’s Judges Association denounced the decision, saying on Saturday he should have stepped down before showing up.
Twenty-one candidates are vying for the post of prime minister, including Fathi Bashaga, the powerful interior minister in the government recognized by the UN in Tripoli, and Ahmed Maetig, his deputy prime minister.
Williams on Thursday told the UN Security Council that the rally amounted to “a landmark round of intra-Libyan talks.”
On the same day, the United States called on Russia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to end their military interventions in the country, as called for under the ceasefire agreement. which has been widely held in recent months.
The ceasefire agreement, signed in October, provided for the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya within three months. But so far no progress has been made in this regard.
Williams said in December that there were at least 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries in Libya, and warned of a “serious crisis” as arms continue to flow into the North African country.
Since the NATO-backed uprising in 2011, Libya has been divided between rival administrations in the east and the west, each supported by an array of militias and foreign powers.
Turkey is the main government boss in the capital Tripoli, while Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates support the forces of renegade commander Khalifa Haftar – who rules most of the east and south.