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Libyan delegates gather in Geneva to pick new PM amid rising tensions back home

Delegates at the opening of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum on February 1, 2021   -  
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"AFP PHOTO/ UNITED NATIONS"

Libya

Libyan Political Dialogue Forum's convention kicked off Monday in Geneva in the presence of the UN Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General Stephanie Williams.

The meeting, expected to last until Feb. 5, is supposed to vote on the positions of a three-member Presidency Council and the Prime Minister of Libya, in accordance with the roadmap adopted by the Forum in Tunis in mid-November.

Twenty-one candidates have been nominated to be prime minister, and 24 to sit on the presidency council.

"You have put an indelible mark on the calendar for the holding of national elections on December 24th of this year. This decision was greeted with the overwhelming approval by your compatriots, and it is a commitment which must be honored at all costs," Stephanie Williams, acting UN Envoy for Libya said.

Tension has been high since Sunday in Tripoli, where militias loyal to Fayez el-Sarraj have once again rejected the political process initiated by the UN. Hundreds of military vehicles filled with armed men from several locations in Western Libya convened in the capital.

There are doubts whether those picked by the UN-selected Libyan Political Dialogue Forum will be accepted by rival regimes in the east and west of the country.

Libya has been mired in violence since the 2011 fall of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising, with an array of armed groups and two administrations vying for power.

The UN-recognised Government of National Accord dominates Tripoli and the west, while an eastern administration is backed by part of the HoR, elected in 2014 -- along with military chief Khalifa Haftar.

Following a year-long but ultimately abortive attempt by Haftar to seize Tripoli, the two sides signed a formal truce deal in October, pumping new life into UN-led efforts for a political solution to the conflict.