Bernardino Leon Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) writes on . . .[restrict]the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of the 2011 Libya Revolution
When the people of Libya rose up on 17 February 2011, they were demanding their rights and seeking freedom and democracy. The symbols of the old despotic regime were destroyed and the new beginning for Libya was promising. The Libyans envisaged a better future for themselves and their families. The world, impressed by the courage and determination of the Libyan people, by large stood by their side since then.
But the Libyan people did not expect that less than four years later Libyans would be fighting Libyans. They did not expect that the deep divisions will blind the vision of a strong, united and prosperous country having its rightful place among the nations of the world. They did not expect terrorist groups, taking advantage of the chaos, to be fast gaining ground and committing horrendous crimes.
As Libyans mark the anniversary of their revolution this year, it would be unhelpful to dwell on what went wrong in the transitional phase and who is to blame. What is more important now is to stop the political and security deterioration, end the fighting, prevent the terrorist groups Ansar Al-Sharia, ISIS and Al-Qaida from expanding, limit the damage inflicted so far and embark on reviving the stalled efforts of state building.
The United Nations has been facilitating political dialogue among the Libyans parties to find a peaceful resolution to the political and security crisis buffering their country. This dialogue process gained momentum in the past few weeks. Good progress has been made, with the participants in agreement that they want a united country and a political solution as soon as possible to ensure an end to the bloodshed and the suffering.
The anniversary of the revolution provides an opportunity for Libyans to recommit to the revolution’s goals of building a democratic state based on human rights and rule of law. It is the time for all Libyans to vocally and actively reject terrorism and work to eliminate it, for this scourge if left unchecked will sweep all without differentiating between regions and affiliations. All those faithful to the revolution and its principles owe it to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and to those who are risking their lives every day to try to bring peace to the country. The people will not forgive those whose actions are contributing to prolonging the conflict and giving ground, even if unintentionally, to ISIS and other terrorists.
But commitment may not be enough. What is needed is action – and swiftly.
A few days before the anniversary, we convened a political dialogue meeting in Ghadames that for the first time included all the invited parties. The dialogue offers the only available opportunity to mend fences, to restore stability, credibility and the broken trust among the Libyans.
The Libyans have a chance to agree on the formation of a consensual national unity government with a strong mandate to tackle the country’s problems, from restoring security, to uniting state institutions and providing basic services. It is their opportunity to agree on security arrangements to end the fighting and ensure the withdrawal of armed groups from the cities to allow the state to take control of vital installations.
We have an ongoing dialogue process. It will take time to achieve results. As facilitator of this dialogue, I say it is not too late for those who sincerely wish to see their country recover and be secure from violence and terrorism to join the effort. With determination and perseverance, the sincere Libyans with the support of the international community have a chance to reclaim the country they dreamt of having when they first took to the streets on 17 February 2011. [/restrict]