Near verbatim transcript of ASRSG Stephanie Williams virtual press conference 13 November 2020

13 Nov 2020

Near verbatim transcript of ASRSG Stephanie Williams virtual press conference 13 November 2020

I am pleased to announce that today participants to the Libyan Political dialogue Forum agreed that the date of the national elections in Libya should be on 24 December 2021.

December 24 is Libyan Independence Day. This is a symbolic day, a very important day for Libyans but it will also be a critical day in the history of Libya, because it will be a time, an occasion, on which they can democratically elect their leaders and renew the legitimacy of their institutions. Of course we will work with them to seek full enfranchisement, including the ability of those who have been displaced from their homes, for them to be able to vote and to ensure the necessary security conditions; and also the full enabling of the High National Elections Commission, which is the national body that is charged with conducting elections.

As I have previously indicated in the presser that I gave here on Wednesday, the 75 participants have reached a preliminary agreement on a roadmap for the preparatory phase towards these national elections.

The roadmap itself reflects the will of the Libyan people as expressed here in this diverse representation, here in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, as well as the consultations that we have conducted prior to the forum with thousands of Libyans. This national roadmap provides a clear path out of the current crisis and to credible, inclusive and democratic elections.

Reaching elections requires a new executive to unify the country. This means establishing a new and reformed Presidency Council and an effective and unified Government of National Unity, as outlined in the Berlin Conference Conclusions and adopted by UN Security Council Resolution 2510 (2020).

The participants here, with the support of UNSMIL, have started outlining the competencies of a reformed Presidency Council and the government of national unity, which will be under the leadership of a separate Prime Minister, so separating the Presidency Council from the Prime Minister.

They have also been defining the eligibility criteria and selection mechanism for these new executive positions. I want to make it really clear that there is no list of names and neither UNSMIL nor our international partners will propose or impose particular names.

We are making all efforts possible to better include in this process, that we are running here in Tunis, all those who do not feel associated enough and who wish to engage constructively with us; they are welcome to help us and there is so much that needs to be done in the coming weeks and months so that we can reach the elections that all Libyans desire.

Like the dialogue process itself and you may recall that participants here had to sign a pledge recusing them from executive positions, we are taking similar steps to ensure that the candidates for the selection process are been asked to adhere to the principles of inclusivity, transparency, efficiency, pluralism, collegiality, and patriotism. 

And these are guiding principles that we laid out at the start of this dialogue process with the concurrence of the 75 participants. So, we have these guiding principles and plus the participants here had to sign the pledge to recuse themselves. What this all means is the members of the new executive will be asked to share a ledger of their assets, and to formally commit to the democratic process and the deadline for elections – they can’t just get too comfortable in their chairs – this would be a preparatory phase, this would a temporary government, and that’s a deadline they are going to be held to before their fellow citizens and the international community

I want to talk to you a little bit about the atomsphere in the room here. It is very good, it is collegial, they are working well together, they know that they are shouldering a real responsibility and all eyes in Libya are on them and there is a great expectation that this gathering is going to produce some real good for the country.

Because of this commitment, and their commitment to this process and their seriousness, you know I left them now they have been working incredibly long hours and as you know it is difficult to bring people together in these circumstances given the global pandemic, but their commitment has now encouraged us to extend the talks by a few more days, in order to ensure that we achieved all what we are setting out to do.

You know this is as I said the expectations for this group here, this group of 75, are immense and we saw that, we’ve seen that the need, the sort of constituency for change in the country that emerged over the last 4-5 months and particularly as we saw the demonstrations that took place in August and September, they really indicated how badly the average Libyans want things to change; that they are fed up, fed up with the rampant corruption and misgovernance and they want to unify the country, they want to see their institutions unified and they very much need to see progress and they need to see a new united government that can deliver services, first and foremost. I was in the south of Libya last week and it was really a sad thing to see that these municipalities are cut off and they are not receiving the services and they are not receiving the assistance that they need.

I think that the participants here, the 75 [participants] have a golden opportunity to really move the country forward.

There is, you know as we say, a large status quo party in Libya, it is in the East, the West, these are factions and individuals who are really seeking to block progress or undermine the process and who are really only interested in retaining their current privileges at the expense of the Libyan people. The momentum is against them and their desire to promote their narrow personal interests at the expense of the public good, it is just really not something that is going to be tolerated or understood.

There is a great deal of pressure. I also encourage the participants here to take their cue from their military colleagues and the Joint Military Commission (JMC) who have continued to really do some very good work on their own over the last three days. The JMC talks wrapped up yesterday. They met for the first time in Sirte, which is their new headquarters for a 6th round of talks and they also made some great progress on the operationalization of the ceasefire agreement that signed in Geneva on 23rd October. The Commission made provisions to expedite the reopening of the coastal road from Misrata to Benghazi as well as starting to make arrangements for the withdrawal of foreign forces.

So, I was really encouraged when I saw the readout from the JMC talks [in Sirte]. The JMC talks have been really positively received in Libya and particularly the work that they are doing to reopen roads. Now there is an emphasis now on the coastal road. They will also turn in due time to the roads to the south, which is an area, as I just indicated, that is historically cut off and deprived. They have made already great strides with opening of flights throughout the country as well as the full resumption of oil; that is a direct fruit of the interaction in the Joint Military Commission and the real tangible steps that they taking and in addition of course to continuing exchange of detainees. So, these are really positive developments.

There is a lot of work ahead. UNSMIL can’t do this alone, we need the help of regional and international actors and you know I am glad to report that I have received very encouraging commitments and support from the international community including Berlin process’s participants.

You know their actions need to match their words and of course that goes without saying with regard to the arms embargo. They really need to respect the wishes and the decisions taken by the Libyans.

The international community has the tools at its disposal to – for instance here in the political process – to prevent spoilers, including through the use of sanctions as per the relevant Security Council resolutions.

We are going to continue to need their help as we move along here.


To watch the virtual press conference: