UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday urged Libya to stick to its plan to hold parliamentary elections on June 25 and defended the United Nations' goal of organising a meeting to promote reconciliation among the North African country's competing factions.
"The secretary-general continues to follow closely the situation in Libya and stresses the importance of the peaceful and timely holding of elections on 25 June," U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.
"He also commends UNSMIL's (U.N. Support Mission in Libya) work in the areas of good offices and facilitation of dialogue, which it carries out with impartiality and openness to all national parties concerned," he added.
Libya has been in a state of near constant turmoil for three years with successive prime ministers struggling for legitimacy, various armed groups paralysing governance and a loss of vital oil export revenue due to a port blockade by armed rebels.
The U.N. announcement to convene a "dialogue" meeting in Libya was met with criticism from the Tripoli government, which complained that the world body failed to consult with Libyan partners before announcing it.
The dialogue refers to an UNSMIL announcement on Wednesday that it would hold a "dialogue meeting among representatives of Libyan political forces and stakeholders to reach a national agreement, irrespective of their differences and divisions."
In response to Libyan demonstrations against the United Nations, Libyan government spokesman Ahmed Lamin urged Libyans not to resort to violence against UNSMIL and U.N. special envoy Tarek Mitri.
"We are against any attacks against the U.N. mission," Lamin said. "We respect the role the U.N. mission has played since Libya's independence even if we have differences. Any opposition should be peaceful."
Two years ago, there was an unsuccessful assassination attempt against then U.N. special envoy Ian Martin.
(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau in New York and Ulf Laessing in Tripoli; editing by G Crosse)