REFILE-UPDATE 1-“Difficult” talks on Libya aimed at preparing for elections miss deadline

(Corrects a typographical error in the 11th paragraph to make the speaker’s identity “she” and not “he”)

GENEVA, July 2 (Reuters) – The UN-backed talks aimed at paving the way for Libya’s elections in December missed a deadline and lasted until a fifth day on Friday as delegates struggled to get along.

The meeting of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum near Geneva was expected to establish the constitutional basis for presidential and legislative elections by July 1.

But delegates and UN officials said they couldn’t agree among themselves on several outstanding proposals, prompting organizers to extend talks originally scheduled to last four days.

The elections would be a key part of international efforts to bring stability to Libya, which has been in turmoil since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 against Muammar Gaddafi.

A UN-led peace process resulted in a ceasefire last summer after fighting between rival factions paused and then a unity government was formed.

The talks in Switzerland follow an international conference in Berlin last week.

United Nations envoy to Libya Jan Kubis said on Monday that leaving Switzerland without a decision this week was “not an option” given the timetable.

“He is really pushing for a consensus to be reached on the way forward to find that constitutional basis which will allow the country to hold the elections scheduled for December 24,” UN spokesman Rheal said on Friday. LeBlanc, during a briefing.

On Thursday, Kubis called today’s session “difficult” and urged delegates to refrain from “disrespectful behavior and personal attacks,” without giving details.

A live stream of the UN talks streaming on the discussions of the 75 delegates earlier in the week has since stopped.

However, one delegate, Lamees Bensaad, said she still believed a deal could be found.

“I am optimistic and look forward to a consensus,” she said.

Progress towards a political solution in Libya has accelerated after the failure of Eastern Commander Khalifa Haftar’s 14-month assault on Tripoli last summer.

A formal ceasefire was reached in October and the following month, participants in the UN peace dialogue set a date for the elections and agreed to create a new interim government.

However, major risks persist with a myriad of armed groups holding power on the ground.

Haftar was supported by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt in its offensive in Tripoli. The internationally recognized government in Tripoli was supported by Turkey, which ultimately helped it repel the assault. (Report by Emma Farge, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Ahmed Elumami in Tripoli, edited by Angus MacSwan)

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