The UN’s Libya envoy warned rival sides attending new peace talks on Wednesday that the North African “country really is at the limit” and risks becoming a failed state.
UN Support Mission in Libya chief Bernardino Leon urged those attending the peace talks to acknowledge their common interests, particularly their fight against the Islamic State (IS), and to stop demanding new concessions of each other.
Economically, Leon warned that Libya’s institutions are running out of money to pay salaries and that, even if oil production returned to normal, it would not generate enough revenue to sustain public finances.
Goldman Sachs has estimated that Libya needs crude oil prices at $185 just to breakeven and balance its budget.
Leon also pointed to the ongoing political impasse, as representatives of the internationally recognized government in Tobruk and the Fajr Libya militia alliance that controls the capital remain at odds.
More from Leon:
The country – we have repeated that many times but now it is more true that ever – the country is really at the limit.
Let me start with the economic situation. The Central Bank of Libya and the administrations will not be able to continue to pay salaries for a long time, maybe one month, maybe one month and a half after that the financial situation in the country will not be able to keep Libya’s functioning state as a functioning administration. And this works for all sides, for all regions, for all cities in Libya. Oil production has dropped but even if the oil production recover its normal, average production will not be able to sustain the budget deficit that Libya needs to have in order to sustain its public finances.
Politically, the situation has continued in a similar way, with the competing institutions, the competing governments, not advancing not flagging very clearly a decision to reach an agreement while we have seen terrorism, we have seen Daesh becoming more and more important in the country.
If the people involved in the different tracks, in the different dialogue forums don’t understand this message very clearly and continue to try to get more concessions from the other side without understanding that Libya has reached the limit the result will be that Libya will become a failed state.
He said progress will not be made if one side accuses Fajr Libya of being a terrorist organization, while the other side accuses the Tobruk government of championing the interests of those who supported ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
“There is no more room for these narratives. There is only room for moderate Libya to agree on a unity government and on the main framework and agreement that will sustain this government.”
“Libyans are telling us very clearly ‘enough is enough’ and the time has come to make this agreement. We don’t want any more political debates… we want the people who are negotiating to think of all Libya and to think especially of the Libyan people that is suffering,” he said.
Speaking in Qatar on Tuesday, Leon said that he believed that 75 per cent of political leaders in Libya wanted peace.
So far, three rounds of peace talks have taken place in North Africa, however they have failed to bring peace.
The country’s elected parliament and government were forced to relocate outside the capital to the far eastern cities of Tobruk and Bayda after militias linked to Islamist factions took over Tripoli last year.
The bulk of the city of Sirte — hometown of former leader Gaddafi — fell to the IS last week, the BBC reported.
Libya plunged into chaos following a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed Gaddafi. The country is engaged in an ongoing fight against the IS and other extremists in addition to trying to control its borders.