A man wears traditional clothes as he serves a traditional meal during a wedding in Junzur Image Credit: Reuters

Highlights

  • Libyans overwhelmingly want a national government
  • Anger and bitterness about the economic situation frequently expressed
  • Immediate priority for a national reconciliation

Tunis - Libyans overwhelmingly want a national government that represents all parts of society and distributes resources fairly, a U.N.-mandated group said on Thursday after rare meetings across Libya.

Libyans are demanding a share distribution of resources and an end to looting by armed groups of oil and gas revenues, the real power holders.

The findings by the non-governmental Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue highlight wide discontent of ordinary Libyans with a struggle between two governments, rival armed groups, tribes and regions since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The United Nations had mandated the centre to stage 77 meetings in 43 places across Libya to engage with all parts of society, a rare grassroots experiment in a country where few dare express themselves freely for fear of armed groups.

More than 7,000 Libyans participated in the meetings, some 30 percent of whom took part online as volatile security made it difficult to come in person, the group's 77-page report obtained by Reuters said.

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For one meeting in the southern city of Sabha, shaken for years by tribal violence, rival groups agreed on a ceasefire to allow for the rare public meeting to go ahead, the group said.

Only way forward

The meetings were meant to prepare for a national conference the U.N. wants to stage early in 2019 after having abandoned a plan to hold a vote in 2018 because of violence and political divisions.

Libya should start the process to hold an election in spring 2019 only after a national conference to discuss conflicts, U.N. Special Libya Envoy Ghassan Salame said on Thursday.

U.N. envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame gestures during a meeting with southern Libyan groups in Tripoli. Image Credit: Reuters

The U.N. envoy for Libya says the crisis-wracked country is caught in a destructive cycle "fueled by personal ambition and the nation's stolen wealth" - and the way forward should begin with a National Conference in early 2019.

Ghassan Salame said Libya's House of Representatives has failed to produce legislation to amend the constitution and hold presidential and parliamentary elections, and the time has come for a wider group of Libyans to meet "to devise a clean path out of the present impasse, reinforced by a clear timetable."

Salame told the Security Council Thursday that he backs this more representative group of Libyans' plan to move forward with a National Conference in the first weeks of 2019.

"The subsequent electoral process should commence in the spring of 2019," Salame said.

Unify the population

"A common grievance expressed by participants in the consultation process was the lack of any government that genuinely represents and unifies the population," the report said.

"The great majority of participants also agreed that the immediate priority for a new government should be national reconciliation," it added.

Libyans are demanding a share distribution of resources and an end to looting by armed groups of oil and gas revenues, the real power holders.

"A sense of anger and bitterness about the economic situation was frequently expressed, especially with regard to the National Oil Corporation, the Central Bank, and Libyan assets abroad," the report said.