Under the auspices of UNSMIL head Abdoulaye Bathily, the 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC), made up of military leaders from eastern and western Libya, met in Benghazi yesterday. This was another historic first following the first joint meeting of the former waring enemies in Tripoli on 26 March.
Addressing what he called a meeting of ‘‘utmost significance’’, Bathily noted that as the JMC continued to meet, more leaders are joining each time.
Reporting on his visit to Libya’s neighbouring countries, Bathily said his visit was successful. He said there was an agreement among all neighbouring countries’ leaders on the importance of a coordinated, sequenced, synchronized and balanced withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries’ from Libya.
He said political resolution of the Libyan crisis comes through creating a conducive environment for inclusive, free, and fair elections in 2023.
He hoped that during the Benghazi meeting the 5+5 JMC will agree to adopt a pact of honour shaping a conducive political environment and committing to secure, free and fair elections in 2023, and to endorse the results.
Here are Bathily’s opening remarks in full:
First, I would like to thank the 5+5 JMC and the leaders of the security and military units for joining this meeting tonight, under the auspices of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya. I also thank your respective leaders who haven’t spared any effort to advance this dialogue among you.
12 days after your meeting in Tripoli, we are here again today in Benghazi, as agreed upon in Tunis and Tripoli last month.
This meeting between brothers and colleagues is of utmost significance as it strengthens the pattern of reconciliation and prospective meetings inside Libya.
As part of my comprehensive approach to address the protracted crisis, I intend to visit Sebha in the next couple of days to ensure all stakeholders across Libya are engaged in crafting the way out of this crisis.
I also note that as we continue to meet, more leaders are joining each time. The sense of inclusiveness and reconciliation is prominent, reversing a painful path and moving towards hope for Libyans. I wish in that regard to acknowledge the collective efforts of the 5+5 JMC who have strived to engage all key security and military actors in order to foster peace and stability in Libya.
You are aware that I just returned my first official visit to Libya’s southern neighbours, Sudan, Chad and Niger. This visit came in support of the efforts of the 5+5 JMC and the Liaison Committees from the three countries. In the three capitals, Khartoum, N’Djamena and Niamey – I met with head of states, ministers of defence and interior and other high state officials. I discussed with them the withdrawal of foreign fighters, foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya.
Recognizing the challenges ahead including the various motivations behind the presence of these armed groups in Libya, the visit was successful.
There was an agreement among all leaders on the importance of a coordinated, sequenced, synchronized and balanced withdrawal of foreign fighters, foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya ensuring that there are no adverse impacts on the countries of origin.
We all know that the full resolution of the Libyan crisis and the current political stalemate needs time, perseverance, and patience. However, I am sure your continued coordination and cooperation represent a great opportunity to sustain dialogue, to build trust, and to exchange views on how to provide a solid foundation for a political resolution that culminates in resolving the Libyan crisis through creating a conducive environment for inclusive, free, and fair elections in 2023.
Your determination to support the UN’s good offices, to unlock the current crisis, and your commitment to end division and proceed steadily towards inclusive elections are needed. By doing so, you are supporting your own people, your country, and your motherland. You share responsibility with all other political leaders and civil society actors for crafting a peaceful environment for all people in Libya to secure a stable and prosperous future. The patriotic path you chose to take will be hard, and you must not be deterred by polarized discourse that some tend to promote. Keep united and continue to be united for the sake of your motherland.
Peace, stability, development and prosperity are the fruits of true reconciliation, good will and real compromise from the few to the greater good of the whole nation. Enmity, hate, conflict and wars are all about destruction to your nations as much as souls.
Two days ago, I was thrilled to see the mayors of municipalities from all over the country coming together to discuss future development and prosperity. In my address to them, I told them, and I repeat to you too: Ten years of conflict are enough! Ten years of this crisis are way more than enough! We must begin a new era of comprehensive national reconciliation in all regions of Libya. So that the Libyans talk to one another as brothers and sisters. The time has come to provide the conditions for the rebirth and renaissance of Libya.
This meeting tonight is the symbol of unity and a symbol of a new Libya – a sovereign Libya.
I reiterate the call I made to the mayors and call upon you to play your part in enabling the holding of free and fair elections this year.
I would like to build on our meeting today and bring further progress to feature in my upcoming briefing to the Security Council scheduled in about 10 days from now.
I will continue to work with all stakeholders to restore hope among all Libyans whose eyes are fixed on Benghazi, and on you tonight.
I urge you not to let down your own people and the children of Libya – your children – who aspire for a safer and more prosperous future through this irreversible path to peace.
Let’s close all doors to conflict and have the doors wide open for constructive dialogue and reconciliation.
In addition to the facilitation and the adoption of the legal framework and time-bound path to the holding of elections in 2023, my initiative is meant to also provide a platform to advance consensus around related matters. One of these important matters is the security of elections and people including female candidates and voters so that they can exercise their political rights with no fear. Your renewed commitment to me, and also to the people of Libya, to ensure conducive security environment before, during and after elections as well as acceptance of elections results, must be clearly demonstrated.
I count on your cooperation for creating the necessary conditions for peace and stability in Libya. I hope that during this meeting you will be able to move forward and agree to adopt a pact of honour shaping a conducive political environment and committing to secure, free and fair elections in 2023, and to endorse the results. Your efforts in contributing today, and further supporting the national reconciliation process, are also much appreciated at this critical phase.
In this holy month of compassion and forgiveness, I expect you to demonstrate fraternity and historical unity tonight by putting practical steps for the safe return of the Internally Displaced Persons and the release of detainees. Let’s open the doors of prisons and detention centers. Let’s rejoice together in the houses and streets of Libya. In so doing, the children of Libya will be grateful to all of you.
I wish that we will have fruitful discussions with concrete results for the way ahead to tackle these matters that are critical to a sustainable peace and stability in Libya.