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Leon hopes the GNC will attend in Geneva

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The Special Representative of the Secretary General to Libya, Bernardino Leon, provides a statement to journalists as peace talks of Libya continue in Skhirat, on Friday. However, the General National Congress (GNC) was absent in these talks.

The negotiations on Friday to form the expected concord government in Libya moved forward and the parties will reconcile next Thursday in Geneva. The factions will display their candidates of two deputies and the Prime Minister, who will lead the concord government.

Commenting on the absence of the GNC, Leon voiced his hope that the GNC will re-join the Geneva talks, as they were not present in the last round in Skhirat, after the resignation of Saleh Makhazoom, the head of the GNC committee. He also mentioned that UNSMIL will intensify its connection with the Libyan stakeholders to establish wide participation in the next round.

Leon said that he hopes the GNC steps up, and attends the meeting in Geneva next week. He added, the HoR will have a meeting on Sunday to decide on the candidates, in order to be ready by Thursday. He also said that time is running out fast for Libya, as it faces continuous bleeding, an ever increasing Islamic state (IS) terrorist threat and a currency fast collapsing.

Leon replied to a question on the retired General Khalifa Haftar by stating that the expected concord government will have to suggest names for the various ministers, and then for the higher positions in the army and civilian administrations. He said “this is the principle we are working on; once we have a wider discussion and hopefully a decision on the leadership of the government, I think we should listen to them and to their views on this point”.

Leon said, the day 21 September will be the deadline for the final agreement to be signed. He stated three important reasons on this deadline, the first, “if the agreement is finalized and signed by the 20th of September, by the 20th of October the new unity government will be ready to start operating.” He also mentioned that there will not be a political vacuum in Libya and that rumors and comments about military councils are “absolutely unacceptable”

Other reasons he stated were: Hajj season starting at the end of September, “we will have equally the General Assembly of the United Nations is starting in last week of September”. This is a brilliant opportunity for the international community to support and endorse. He believed that this would be a great opportunity for Libyans too. He ended the statement by saying “if you put all these reasons together this is what explains the strength in which UNSMIL is conveying to the parties that this is the moment to finish”.