The Latest: Libya plans conference on its political process

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Libya's President Mohamed Younis Menfi addresses the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool)

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After a no-confidence vote in Libya’s transitional government this week added to uncertainty ahead of key elections in December, one of its leaders said Thursday the government would hold an international conference next month on trying to keep the political process on track.

Mohammad Younes Menfi, who chairs Libya’s three-member Presidential Council, announced the plan but gave few specifics at the U.N. General Assembly meeting of world leaders. He said the conference would involve “relevant national bodies and institutions,” plus regional and international voices.

The aim: maintaining the political process, keeping “unified, consistent, coherent” international support, and conducting “safe, transparent, fair elections,” Menfi said. He didn’t give a location or exact date.

“Libya is at a critical juncture – indeed, a defining moment,” said Menfi, a diplomat from the country’s east.

“We either succeed in the democratic transition by means of fair and free and transparent elections, the results of which are acceptable to all, then move towards a sustained stability and prosperity -- or we fail and relapse into division and armed conflict,” he said.

Libya has endured a decade of chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

In the aftermath, the oil-rich nation was split between a government in the east, backed by commander Khalifa Hifter, and a U.N.-supported administration in the capital of Tripoli. Each side has also had the support of different regional powers, militias and mercenaries from countries such as Russia and Syria.

All mercenaries and foreign forces were supposed to withdraw after last October’s cease-fire agreement, but they remain in the country and Menfi said this issue remains “a real challenge.”

The current transitional government replaced the two rival administrations and was intended to prepare the country for elections on Dec. 24.

But Libyan lawmakers passed a vote of no confidence in the transitional government on Tuesday, adding to questions about the planned elections. Still, Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah said the government would keep pushing ahead. (edited)


Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo has requested support to address the flood of migrants passing through his nation.

He told the U.N. General Assembly that, this year alone, already 80,000 migrants have traversed Panama. It’s been an exponential rise, from 800 in January to 30,000 last month, and Panama dedicates some of its limited resources to providing them with food and shelter.

“Panama does its part. Now we appeal to the international community to, as soon as possible, make a joint effort, with coordinated strategies and resources,” he said.

Cortizo said the migrants largely originate in Africa and the Caribbean. The crisis is centered in the deep forest of the Darien Gap at Panama’s border with Colombia, which migrants attempt to cross en route to the U.S.

Panama’s foreign minister Erika Mouynes said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday that the nation hasn’t received “a cent of international cooperation” to face up to the flow of migrants.

“This is everyone’s responsibility,” Cortizo said.


UNITED NATIONS — Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel seized on the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan to blast the United States for what he said is a history of foreign policy disasters.

“Occupation only leaves destruction, and no country has the right to impose its will on sovereign nations,” Días Canel said in a pre-recorded video shown at the U.N. General Assembly. “Afghanistan is not an isolated case. It has been evidence that where the United States intervenes, there is an increase in instability, deaths, suffering and enduring scars.”

Afghanistan was just one example the Cuban president used to attack U.S. foreign policy, which he said relied on the “pernicious use and abuse of measures of economic coercion.”

He scolded U.S. President Joe Biden for maintaining more than 200 measures adopted by his predecessor, Donald Trump, particularly the addition of Cuba to the list of nations that sponsor terrorism. Trump added Cuba to the list just days before leaving office in January.

Díaz-Canel also expressed support for regional allies Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, and said the South American nation “will always be able to count on Cuba’s solidarity.”

In Maduro’s video speech broadcast at the U.N. yesterday, he railed against U.S.’s “fierce campaign” of sanctions and demanded they be lifted.

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