Libya: will the Madrid conference represent a turning point?

(In collaboration with Termometro Politico)

Last elections in Libya, on June 25th, were expected to be a possible step towards the greatly desired normalization of the country, but hopes were in vain. This is because the elections were characterized by a low turnout and irregular votes. Because of this delicate situation, representatives of the Libyan institutions are making heartfelt pleas to the international community in order to be supported in the achievement of the political stability. In this regard, a few days ago, the ex-Minister of Justice, Salah Al-Marghani, declared: “The existence of a stable and democratic Libya serves the interest of everybody, with regard to its position on the Mediterranean. To reach that goal, the country needs the support from all its friends, including Italy”.

It seems that some world leader want to accept these repeated pleas. An international conference on stability and development in Libya, in which many countries and international organizations took part (the Arab League as well as the Union for the Mediterranean), was held in Madrid on September 17th.

The main aim is to coordinate and encourage the international effort to stabilize Libya through a dialogue and without an armed conflict. Indeed, Al-Marghani declared that all militiamen are not terrorists, like Ansar al-Sharia, so dialogue is still possible.

Members of governments of countries closest to Libya, including Italy, part of the “Med7” group and the “5+5” initiative, attended the conference.

Federica Mogherini, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Italy, was in Madrid. She said: “The Conference offered two main challenges: to coordinate the action of all countries of the region and the UN special envoys, so that international efforts are perceived by Libyans as aid and not taken as a position in an internal conflict […]. The real objective is to pass from conflict on a military to a political arena”.

Libyan institutions are making every effort to stop violence in the country. Indeed, for the first time Libya’s parliament has passed an anti-terrorism legislation, imposing severe prison sentences for perpetrators of acts of terrorism. “Because of the situation of the country, the law will be applied only to areas ‘controlled by the government’, excluding Tripoli and Benghazi – Al-Marghani said – but it will be applied there as soon as the two cities are under government control again”.

The law, which clearly defines a “terrorist”, imposes life imprisonment for whoever starts or manages a terrorist organization and at least ten years in prison for taking part in it.

At the moment, it seems that both Euro-Mediterranean and North African front, including Libyan institutions, want to find a solution to Libyan problems. But the solution is not exactly around the corner.


Giancarlo Assumma

Master’s degree in International Relations (University of Milan)

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