Libya witnessing ‘conflict over oil,’ delaying elections: UNSMIL head

Libya is witnessing a “conflict over oil;” hence the date of the presidential and parliamentary elections has not been set, head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Ghassan Salamé, said on Sunday.

The date and the place where the National Conference will be held have not been determined as all the participants need to first see its agenda. Meanwhile, the UNSMIL is working on settling issues between Libyan parties, Salamé told BBC news.

“We do not want to repeat the 2014 experience when elections were held, but not all parties accept its outcomes. I work hard and will not answer the accusations made by some parties on the mission,” he said.

The battle for the control of oil resources is at the center of a conflict between power brokers; one is led by Head of Presidency of Council (PC) Faiez Sarraj in the west and the other is led by LNA Commander Khalifa Haftar in the east.

Further, armed groups, mainly operating from the south, launch attacks against Libyan oil fields to strengthen their grip over the country and control its revenues. Some Libyans also stage protests at oil fields to voice their demands, often interrupting work for a long time and inflicting major losses.

Meanwhile to the north of Libya, Salame said the crisis between Paris and Rome will negatively affect Libya’s interests.

He blamed Libyan parties for allowing foreign parties, who sometimes take actions against Libyan interests, to interfere in internal Libyan affairs.

Over the last year, both France and Italy have played a role in Libyan politics as Paris Conference was held, and was followed a few months later by Palermo Conference in November.

However, some Libyans believe the European efforts have undermined rather than supported the UN-led peace initiative due to the Paris-Rome rivalry.

Italy’s new populist government has introduced anti-immigration measures that threaten to keep hundreds of thousands of migrants stranded in Libya.

Meanwhile, both countries have shares in Libya’s oil wealth, with Italy’s oil giant, ENI, importing about 25 percent of its oil and 10 percent of its gas from the North African state, while Total SA, the French equivalent of ENI, buys about 15 percent of Libyan oil.


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