UN Envoy Calls for Political Solution of the Libyan Conflict

With the conflict in Libya entering its fifth month and showing no signs of waning, it is critical for the parties to redouble efforts towards a political solution as well as to alleviate the suffering caused to the people of the North African nation, a senior United Nations official stressed today.

“The process of negotiating a solution has begun, though we are still, regrettably, a considerable distance from finding the solution,” Abdul Elah Al-Khatib, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Libya, told reporters in New York after briefing the Security Council in a closed-door meeting on the latest developments.

“For the sake of the Libyan people, I sincerely hope the time required to reach a solution can be shortened, but this will require greater vision and the will to move in that direction.”

Hundreds of people are confirmed to have been killed – and hundreds of thousands displaced -since opposition forces rose up against the regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi in February as part of a wider pro-democracy movement across North Africa and the Middle East.

“Enough Libyans have lost their lives. It should be clear that any lasting end to the conflict will require a political solution, and this solution must fulfil the Libyan people’s legitimate aspirations for a peaceful and democratic future,” Mr. Al-Khatib stated.

“Fighting to the bitter end will only lead to more unnecessary suffering,” added the envoy, who visited the Libyan capital, Tripoli, on Saturday and held discussions with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

He urged the parties to increase their focus on working towards a political solution, stating that he would like to see indirect discussions evolve into direct talks.

While it is for the Libyans to determine what such a solution should entail, he said a key issue to be negotiated is to reach agreement on an institutional mechanism tasked with managing a transitional period. “This would have to be all-inclusive and involve representatives from all political and social groups, as well as a wide range of factions, regions and tribes.”

Meanwhile, the fighting has been escalating in recent days, Mr. Al-Khatib reported, and the humanitarian situation remains “dire.”

He stressed the importance of alleviating the suffering caused by the conflict, adding that the UN is constantly working to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground and to help ensure that aid reaches those who need it. “Addressing humanitarian needs is critical,” he stated.

He added that upcoming meetings in Istanbul, Turkey, later this week will provide an opportunity to continue to coordinate the international community’s actions to support peace in Libya.