Tunisia FM rules out holding Libyan elections this year

By Adil Thabiti

TUNIS (AA) – Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui on Tuesday ruled out holding elections in conflict-ridden Libya this year.

“It has become very difficult to respect the dates set by the Paris conference for holding elections in Libya,” Jhinaoui said in an interview with the local Al Chourouk newspaper.

Libya’s warring rivals have agreed during their peace talks in Paris earlier this year to finalize and adopt a constitution by Sept. 16 and hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Dec. 18.

On Monday, East Libya-based parliament failed to vote on whether or not to hold a popular referendum on a new constitution.

The top Tunisian diplomat believes that “there is no solution in Libya without elections”.

But he said it was not possible to hold the polls “in the presence of militias”.

“Militias must be merged into the armed forces,” Jhinaoui said. “All security forces and the national army must be united when the polls are held.”

At least 78 people were killed and scores injured in deadly clashes between rival militias in the capital Tripoli last week.

Libya has remained dogged by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of long-serving President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power.

Since then, Libya’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power — one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli — and a host of heavily armed militia groups.

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