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UN envoy sees 2017 as "year of decision" for Libyans in peace efforts

UN Libya envoy Martin Kobler on Wednesday urged the Libyans to make 2017 "the year of decisions" and political breakthrough in implementing a political accord signed more than a year ago.

"We are beginning to see an emerging consensus among parties. 2017 must be a year of decisions and political breakthrough," Martin Kobler, the UN secretary-general's special representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said while briefing the UN Security Council on the current situation in Libya.

"I am hopeful that with bold decisions and actions we will witness a political breakthrough that can place Libya on the path of peace, prosperity and stability," he said.

Kobler noted that 2016 was spent seeking to implement the agreement and begin the re-establishment of state authority across the country.

Despite some gains, "Libyans are not in a position to address the root causes of divisions," he said, adding that some important decisions must be taken, including on possible amendments to the political agreement, on ways to form a strong army and police force, and on how best to utilize the revenues from oil and gas exports for the benefit of all Libyans.

On the security front, he said the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group, which one year ago was expanding its territory in Libya, now controls none. However, it still poses a threat and the fight against terrorism is far from over, he added.

"The country's borders remain porous," he said. "Terrorists, human and weapons traffickers and criminal gangs continue to exploit the security vacuum."

Meanwhile, the UN envoy also welcomed the initiative of the neighboring states to form a panel of experts to develop recommendations on improving regional border security.

Turning to the economy and finance, he said despite its wealth and abundant natural resources, the country saw living conditions and public services deteriorate over the past years. However, oil production has increased to more than 700,000 barrels per day, and the 2017 budget has been agreed at 37.5 billion Libyan dinars (about 26 billion U.S. dollars).

"This is an opportunity to address much-needed service delivery," in particular in the area of health, he said.

In January, a workshop was held in Malta joined by Libyan experts and activists to establish a roadmap for national reconciliation, he noted. "A process is needed to heal the wounds of years of conflict and oppression."

Since the uprising that toppled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the North African country has been struggling to make a political transition.

[Source: Xinhua, United Nations, 08Feb17]

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