Libya presidency council head plans to hold October conference


Mohamed al-Menfi, Head of the Presidential Council of Libya, talks to the press after a meeting with the French President at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, March 23, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The head of Libya's presidency council said on Thursday he will hold an international conference in October to garner support for the country's stability, warning that it faces "serious challenges" that could undermine planned December elections.

Addressing the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders in New York, Mohammed al-Menfi said the conference would aim to ensure "unified, consistent" international support and restore a sense of Libyan leadership and ownership over the country's future.

"We are faced with serious challenges and quick-paced developments, which compel us - out of responsibility - to think of more realistic and practical options to avoid an impasse in the political process, which could in turn, undermine the looming elections and bring us back to square one," he said.

National elections, planned for Dec. 24, were pushed as a way to end Libya's decade-long crisis, but have been enmeshed in bitter arguments over legitimacy that may unravel a months-long peace process.

"Libya is at a critical juncture," Menfi said.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters in New York on Monday that France, Germany and Italy would co-host an international conference on Libya on Nov. 12 to ensure the electoral calendar would remain in place.

In 2014, eastern and western factions split Libya in two in a civil war, with an internationally recognised government in Tripoli and a rival administration backed by the House of Representatives in the east.

The Dec. 24 election was mandated by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, a U.N.-selected assembly that set a roadmap for peace in Libya, a major oil producer, through installing a unity government and holding a nationwide vote.

Until elections are held, the assembly selected a three-man presidency council headed by Menfi and installed Abdulhamid Dbeibeh as prime minister of the interim government.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Richard Pullin)

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