Libya suicide bombs kill soldiers as UN presses peace

March 25, 2015 6:28 am


United Nations special envoy Bernardino Leon (L) meets with President of the General National Congress Nuri Abu Sahmein (R) in Tripoli, Libya, March 24, 2015/AFP
United Nations special envoy Bernardino Leon (L) meets with President of the General National Congress Nuri Abu Sahmein (R) in Tripoli, Libya, March 24, 2015/AFP
Benghazi, Libya, Mar 25 – A suicide car bomb killed at least seven soldiers in Libya’s second city Benghazi Tuesday, the same day the United Nations unveiled a proposal aimed at ending violence plaguing the oil-rich country.

Libya has been in turmoil since the 2011 overthrow of longtime leader Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising.

It has had two parliaments and governments since Tripoli was seized in August 2014 by the Fajr Libya militia coalition and the internationally recognised government fled to the country’s far east.

In the latest violence, “seven soldiers were killed and 12 wounded in suicide attacks on two army checkpoints” on the road to Benghazi airport, said two special forces spokesmen.

A car bomb was used in each case.

There was no claim of responsibility, but forces loyal to the internationally recognised government have been fighting for months to retake the eastern city from Islamist militants.

It came as the United Nations delivered a six-point proposal to end such bloodshed at meetings in Tripoli and Tobruk, where the two rival parliaments are based.

The UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said the proposal by envoy Bernardino Leon, who has been shepherding peace talks between the rival parliaments, was the “basis from which the parties can work” towards a solution.

UNSMIL said Libya risks “widespread confrontation and deeper division in which terrorism and its expansion will become a serious threat to the country and the region”.

It “cannot afford to wait any longer before there is a settlement that could restore security and stability and end the suffering of the people”.

Samir Ghattas, a spokesman for UNSMIL, told AFP by email: “The visit to Tobruk was good. The objective was to pass on the message to the speaker and that was fulfilled.

– ‘Positive message’ –

“There was a long conversation with the foreign minister, (Mohamed) al-Dayri, at the airport who has been in contact with the House of Representatives, and they sent a positive message.”

The proposals speak of a unity government headed by a president and a presidential council of independent figures, along with a parliament representative of all Libyans and a high state council.

A national security council and a municipalities council would also be created. An existing constitutional drafting committee will also be part of the transitional period.

All will operate for a “transitional period whose duration will be agreed on by the parties and will end with new elections that will come after the approval of the constitution and referendum,” UNSMIL said.

The mission noted that the proposals are “first and foremost Libyan and formulated after wide discussions” that address the concerns of all sides and call on the sides to “make concessions”.

Leon has been working with representatives of the rival parliaments to try to reach a deal in talks this month in Skhirat, Morocco.

“There is a chance that we can make progress and have the first names for a unity government this week,” Leon said Monday in Brussels.

“It is going to be a difficult discussion and I wouldn’t like expectations to be too high, bearing in mind how difficult the situation is on the ground. But there is a possibility and we will do our best to reach there by the end of this week.”

UNSMIL said Leon would return to Skhirat “hopeful that the parties are ready to expedite the talks”.

On Friday the internationally recognised cabinet said its forces had launched an offensive to “liberate” the capital, prompting a threat from the Tripoli parliament to walk out of the talks.


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