We might finally be seeing some light at the end of the Libya tunnel. Friday’s agreement to form a new interim government and the election of a new head of the Presidential Council and an interim prime minister offers Libyans a chance to open a new chapter and end the 10-year-old conflict.
The agreement, which will hopefully be respected by all the warring parties, was reached under the United Nations-sponsored Libyan Political Dialogue Forum and aimed to form an interim government to prepare for the 24 December national elections.
Mohammad Younes Menfi, a Libyan diplomat supported by the eastern tribes, was picked to head the three-person Presidential Council while Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, a known businessman backed by western tribes, was chosen as interim prime minister.
However, there is a long way to go before stability and security are restored. The new authority will have to implement a ceasefire agreement reached in October last year, enable essential services, ensure the protection and flow of Libyan oil, the lifeline of the country, and initiate a reconciliation process to reunite the nation.
The wide-ranging support the agreement gathered instantly is an encouraging sign that the process could yield meaningful results and eventually lead to restoring the elusive stability.
Western powers welcomed the agreement and called it a “critical step” but cautioned “long road still lies ahead.” The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation praised the UN efforts and offered the UAE’s full cooperation with the new executive authority “in order to achieve security, stability, prosperity, and the aspirations of the brotherly Libyan people.” Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states, Egypt and the Arab League also welcomed the agreement.
Such support is essential to the success of the process. However, it is ultimately upon the Libyan people and parties to make the transition. So far, and despite some reservations on the names of the two new leaders and their alliances, the signs give ample hope.
The real work begins now. The first step is to form a new government. But there is an equally important and tough task and crucial to the success of the process- disbanding the militias and the exit of foreign fighters and mercenaries.
In the past few months, Turkey for example, sent in thousands of fighters and heavy arms in support of the previous Al Wefaq government, which was trying to block the efforts of the National Army to reunite country and rid it from extremist militias that had taken over the capital Tripoli.
Libya now needs all the help the international community can extend to ensure the departure of foreign fighters and enable the new authority to do its job. The agreement is just the beginning of a long process towards Libya’s rebirth as a united, stable and prosperous nation.