In July 2017 the French President Macron announced in Paris at the end of a meeting between Libya's UN-backed prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, and Marshall Khalifa Haftar, the Commander of the Libyan National Army, that general elections will take place in Libya in early 2018. Subsequently Ghassan Salamé, the UN Special Representative for Libya, developed an Action Plan towards the elections, including the assembly of a National Conference. Fortunately, the elections did not materialize, as the country is not ready for elections in any aspect, but the now hopefully upcoming National Conference is a great chance to become a turning point for Libya towards a better future - if the right people participate and if it is not just used to rubber-stamp the way towards elections.
Atlantic Council's famous Libya scholar Dr. Karim Mezran and the Chair of our Advisory Board Wolfgang Pusztai wrote the Policy Brief "Exploiting the Achievements of the Libyan Political Agreement", which was published by the Atlantic Council and ISPI, two world-renowned think-tanks located on both sides of the Atlantic.
Karim and Wolfgang argue that the selection of participants for the National Conference is crucial, to have a really credible representation of all Libyans, who are willing to participate in a democratic process, and make a proposal. The cornerstones of a new stabilization plan must include a series of local ceasefires under international supervision while intensifying the common fight against terrorism, a fair distribution of the oil revenues and a decentralized bottom-up approach under an appropriate interim framework, which could be the amended old Libyan Constitution from 1963. Good governance in stable areas must be rewarded. As it is currently not realistic, that a government in Tripoli can work without being a game ball for the local militias, it should be temporarily relocated.
Legitimacy for this new approach could be achieved by ratifying the interim Constitution through the National Conference. This is a true Libyan solution. It is based on numerous discussions with many Libyans from all parts of the country and an unbiased analysis of what is realistically possible.
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