Libya hosts international talks to shore up stability ahead of polls

Tripoli, Oct. 21, (dpa/GNA) – An international conference started on Thursday in Libya aimed to drum up support for stability in the strife-ridden country ahead of long-awaited elections due in December.

Libya’s parliamentary and presidential elections were originally scheduled to be held on December 24.

But the parliament based in eastern Libya delayed the legislative polls until early next year, triggering an objection from the rival High State Council based in the capital Tripoli.

Libyan rivals are meanwhile divided over constitutional rules, wrangling that has thrown the December vote into uncertainty.

On Thursday, officials from the United Nations, Germany, France, Italy and regional powers including Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia gathered in Tripoli for talks.

Opening the one-day meeting, Libyan Prime Minister Mohammed Dbeibeh voiced support for holding the election as scheduled.

"It [the conference] underlines our continued support for implementing the elections, providing favourable circumstances for them and encouraging all Libyan sides to respect their results," he said.

The talks also seek to find common ground on other issues including withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya.

In October last year, Libya's warring sides reached a country-wide permanent ceasefire agreement and set a three-month deadline for withdrawal of foreign troops and mercenaries.

However, thousands of such fighters remain in Libya.

Earlier this month, representatives of Libya's warring sides agreed in Geneva to begin the process of withdrawing all mercenaries and foreign fighters from the country.

An action plan foresees this withdrawal "in a phased, balanced and synchronized manner," the UN said.

Libya has been in turmoil since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moamer Gaddafi and has become a battleground for rival proxy forces that has drawn in foreign powers.