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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Tunisia backs UN drive to hold Libya elections this year

Khemaies Jhinaoui, Tunisia’s foreign minister, said Tunis supported Ghassan Salame’s drive to revise the Libya Political Agreement

Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui of Tunisia addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Friday. Richard Drew/ AP Photo
Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui of Tunisia addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Friday. Richard Drew/ AP Photo

Khemaies Jhinaoui, Tunisia’s foreign minister, used his address to the UN General Assembly meeting in New York on Friday to give strong backing to the special envoy’s roadmap for Libya.

Mr Jhinaoui said Tunis was co-ordinating closely with Egypt and Algeria as Libya’s neighbours to back Ghassan Salame’s drive to revise the Libya Political Agreement by mid-December.

Mr Salame presented the plan to the UN on Wednesday and has set a goal of holding presidential and political elections in the divided North African state by next year.

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Tunis will host the first attempt to hold inclusive talks between the Libyan factions next week. “Tunisia believes there is a role with Algeria and Egypt in helping the Libyans overcome their differences under the UN proposals to take the political path,” he said. “We support an amended agreement and reject any vacuum and commend efforts to bring behind the roadmap.”

Tunisia’s call for all sides to unite behind the roadmap is a significant development as any competing initiatives would hamper Mr Salame’s efforts. Rached Ghannouci, the leader of Enhadda party, which is part of the governing coalition, has engaged in a series of behind the scenes reconciliation efforts with Libyan factions.

The foreign minister also spoke of Tunisia’s role as a force for reform in the Arab world within a democratic framework. He also spoke of the importance of preserving the territorial integrity of both Syria and Yemen as initiatives to achieve reconciliation are underway.

During his trip to New York Mr Jhinaoui met with Miroslav Lajcak, the new Slovak UN General Assembly President and voiced appreciation to the role of the UN which remains to be the best framework for tackling international critical issues including peace, security, development and immigration.

The Tunisian top diplomat invited the new UNGA president to visit Tunisia in order to stand on the developments and reforms achieved in the path of democratic transition since 2011.

Mr Lajcak acknowledged Tunisian achievements and democratisation. He asked for support for a programme during his term in the UN to launch the Global Compact on Migration 2018 and hold high level conferences on peace building and conflict prevention efforts.

Abdelkader Messahel, Algeria’s foreign minister, added his support for reconciliation in Libya through Mr Salame’s initiative.

“It is imperative for the Libyans to resolve differences themselves under the auspices of the UN envoy with the support of neighbouring nations,” he said.