By Abdul Razzaq bin Abdullah
UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salama on Friday affirmed that preparatory discussions were still underway in advance of a planned Libyan National Conference.
In an interview with Algerian state radio, Salama said “two or three weeks” of meetings between representatives of Libya’s rival camps were still needed before a date could be set for the ambitious event.
“But the decision to convene the conference has already been taken and contacts between our Libyan partners have begun," he added.
Voicing his satisfaction with progress made so far, Salama said: "There are still some groups that I must talk to before a date and venue can be announced."
The envoy went on to assert that the planned conference, if held, would constitute a "historic event for the Libyan people”.
Answering a question as to whether parliamentary and presidential polls could be held in Libya’s current uncertain political climate, Salama said parliamentary elections “could take place as early as next spring”.
"But presidential elections require a constitutional framework,” he added. “When we have a constitution ready, we can talk about holding presidential polls.”
Libya has remained dogged by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of long-serving President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power.
Since then, Libya’s stark political divisions have yielded several rival seats of power -- including a UN-backed government in capital Tripoli -- and a host of heavily armed militia groups.