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In January 2020 an international conference in Berlin brought together interested countries and international organisations to try to solve the continuing fighting in Libya. Participants undertook to refrain from intervening in the conflict and to respect the UN arms embargo.

The UN’s mission in Libya, UNSMIL, has been facilitating the Libya Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), to endorse the conclusions of the Berlin conference. At the core of the LDPF is the Joint Military Commission composed of five senior officers from each side of the conflict: the Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli and the authorities based on the House of Representatives and General Haftar and located in the east of the country.

These two sides fought a civil war in 2020, with Haftar’s forces nearly taking Tripoli. With help from other countries, the GNA forces managed to push Haftar back to the centre of the country, where a stalemate ensued. The Joint Military Commission turned the stalemate into an official ceasefire, ordered all foreign forces to leave and set out a roadmap for a political settlement.

After a relatively effective consultation process involving a large proportion of Libyan citizens, on 5 February the LPDF proposed an interim Government of National Unity (GNU). Next steps should be a referendum on the draft constitution, then general elections in December.

There could be problems with the rest of the plan. Members of the GNU may be reluctant to give up their power. The eastern-based House of Representatives has at least held a successful vote of confidence in the GNU. But organising a referendum in time for December elections may be impossible.

Meanwhile, there were some signs of regional rivals such as Turkey and the UAE reducing their intervention, partly because of the arrival of a new Administration in the US. But there are still plenty of foreign forces on the ground


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