Speaking at yesterday’ opening of the third round of the Joint Committee of the House of Representatives and High Council of State in Cairo, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General (SASG), Stephanie Williams, had some strong words for Libya’s militias on the back of Friday’s central Tripoli clashes. She also revealed that this third round would be the final round of these talks.
There is also speculation that this could be Williams’ final act as SASG with rumours that her replacement as UNSMIL head being agreed by the Security Council.
Here are Williams’ full remarks in Cairo yesterday:
‘‘Ladies and Gentleman, Honourable Members of the Joint Committee of the House of Representatives and High Council of State, it is a pleasure to be here today to inaugurate this third and final round of discussions; I wish to express once again my sincere appreciation to the Government of Egypt for warmly welcoming us and generously hosting us once again here in Cairo. On behalf of the United Nations, thank you.
I also wish to thank the honourable members of the House of Representatives and High Council of State for the commitment and seriousness of purpose you have demonstrated in joining and carrying forward this project under United Nations auspices.
I appreciate your responsible leadership in committing to work together to develop a solid constitutional framework, to enable the holding of elections and meeting the aspiration of 2.8 million Libyan citizens who registered to vote to elect those who represent them in Presidential and Legislative elections.
This final round comes at a critical juncture for your country. After eleven long years of division, dysfunction, conflict, chaos and polarization, the Libyan people are exhausted. You have a real opportunity, indeed a solemn responsibility, to give them hope, to provide a pathway towards elections within a firm constitutional framework.
You have already come a long way since your first meeting here on 13 April, having made significant progress in reaching agreement on a number of critical issues. During the last round of talks in May, you demonstrated a spirit of collaboration and responsibility, as well as a willingness to make compromises. You constructively agreed on a significant number of articles, and you came to an initial consensus on sensitive issues. Here, I would like to pause and thank you for your openness and keenness over the past two weeks to continuously communicate with each other to try to reach common understandings.
As elected representatives of the Libyan people, you decided here in Cairo a few weeks ago that this should be the final round that is expected to result in a sound, constitutional framework to enable the holding of elections. There are key articles that are still pending to be agreed on. In this round, you still have important issues to resolve; we hope and expect that you will maintain the sense of responsibility and the spirit of compromise to be able to reach consensus, by upholding the interests of your country over anything else, which paves the way to restore the popular legitimacy to all Libyan institutions.
There is an abundance of hope in Libya that you will succeed in your mission; there’s also pessimism. So, let’s not fail those with hope and let’s end the long-standing state of pessimism and cynicism. Libya deserves the best. Your own children deserve a better present and a brighter future.
Your Libyan compatriots look at you, expecting anxiously tangible results: a firm and consensual constitutional basis that will pave the way for holding transparent elections within the shortest timeframe possible. They can no longer wait. The current deadlock is not sustainable and must come to an end. This meeting could constitute the last straight line towards reaching a compromise. Your compatriots, your constituents, must be able to exercise their democratic right to vote in general, national elections for the first time in more than eight years. This opportunity depends on your ability to sustain your commitment and reach a compromise on the remaining outstanding articles.
My messages, either inside or outside Libya, these last months have remained unchanged: Libyans deserve to live in long-lasting peace and stability, with all what these two words imply; they want a better future for the generations to come. Your responsibility is to fulfil their aspirations. They count on you. Do not disappoint them. Let’s not disappoint them. The international community is fully supportive of your efforts and is ready to welcome and endorse a positive outcome that would put the electoral process back on track.
I am fully conscious that the burden which rests upon your shoulders is heavy and I applaud your commitment and efforts in this endeavour. Your loyalty to your country will help you all unite through the last stage of these arduous negotiations to find a common ground that will ease the way toward a robust constitutional and electoral framework.
My message to the spoilers and those who look to disrupt this delicate political process through the use of force is also clear: you must stop, you must put down your weapons, you must stop terrorizing the civilian population. Enough is enough.
I wish you all success in the next seven days to achieve the best positive outcome possible. My team and I are confident that you will not let your compatriots down, and most importantly, Libya as whole. We stand fully ready to provide all necessary and needed technical assistance.’’