The outcome of a lengthy period of negotiations between Libya’s two rival governments has recently been announced. Bernardino Leon, the United Nations representative for Libya, has confirmed the formation of a national unity government in Libya. However the final decision on whether this proposal will go through or not belongs to the rival parliaments.
In August 2014, an alliance of militias from the city of Misrata took over the capital of Tripoli, and Libya has been divided between the two opposing governments ever since. With an Islamist-backed government in Tripoli, Libya’s internationally-recognized regime was forced to leave to the country’s east. This fragmentation of the administration has further aggravated Libya’s already vulnerable state, which resulted from the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country’s state of chronic turmoil forced more than 150,000 people to flee and join Syrian refugees in a dangerous journey to Europe. The long-lasting chaos has claimed over 1,000 lives, injured 4,000 and left 107,028 displaced as estimated by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Overall, around 2.4 million people in Libya require some form of protection and humanitarian aid today
If the national unity government proposal succeeds, the parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk will be recognized as Libya’s legitimate legislative authority. Meanwhile, the General National Congress established earlier by militia in Tripoli will operate a newly created state council. In a statement, Bernardino Leon said that
“after a year of work in this process, after working with more than 150 Libyan personalities from all regions, finally the moment has come in which we can propose a national unity government.”
According to Leon, a member of the Tripoli-based parliament — Fayez Sarraj — would be nominated as prime minister. The list of candidates for other posts has been decided as well. It comprises of three deputies for the prime minister who will represent Libya’s south, east, and west, and two ministers for a presidential council. Moreover, enlisting two female candidates is a promising step forward. A member of the Libyan National Dialogue Commission, Naima Jibril, was proud to acknowledge this, saying: “Libyan women are capable of playing successful roles in future government.’
It has been difficult for Libya to reach any diplomatic success since 2011, and the compromise that has been reached has been a long time coming. However, it should be noted that it will probably take even longer to bring these plans to reality. Nevertheless, the groundwork has been laid and it was laid through the means of diplomacy rather than combative ways. Hopefully this attempt of collaboration will take Libya ahead, to a place where much needed peace is possible.