African leaders seek to clear way for Libyan dialogue

Tripoli’s government is battling eastern commander Khalifa Haftar in the latest factional fighting since 2011.

Military vehicles of members of the Libyan internationally recognised government forces head out from Misrata to the front line in Tripoli, Misrata, Libya May 10, 2019. REUTERS/Ayman Al-Sahili
International efforts to end the conflict have stumbled and Libya's African neighbours are seeking a wider role in talks [File: Ayman Al-Sahili/Reuters]

Three African heads of state, the African Union chief, and a senior UN envoy met on Thursday in Republic of Congo in the latest attempt to broker talks over Libya’s crisis.

The meeting is the second in the Congo since a summit in Berlin in January where world leaders agreed to halt foreign interference in Libya and impose an arms embargo.

Tripoli’s UN-recognised government is battling renegade eastern commander Khalifa Haftar in the latest factional fighting since the 2011 fall of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

International efforts to end the conflict have stumbled and Libya’s African neighbours have been seeking a wider role in resolving the North African nation’s crisis.

Unequivocal message

At the talks in Oyo town, Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso urged an “unequivocal message” to prepare a conference on national reconciliation for Libya.

Nguesso was joined by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chadian leader Idriss Deby Itno, AU commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat, and Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad.

Algeria’s government has said it would be ready to host a comprehensive dialogue among Libyan parties and joined other African nations in urging an end to foreign interference in Libya.

“It’s time to unite the Libyan people so that they can be reconciled,” Djerad said.

The meeting in Oyo comes in the wake of the resignation of the UN special representative on Libya, Ghassane Salame, whose efforts towards a settlement were commended by the African leaders.

His resignation came after months of work to bring a ceasefire since Haftar launched an offensive in April to seize the capital Tripoli.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj on Thursday, a German government spokesman said in a statement, urging him to move quickly towards signing a ceasefire.

The phone call came days after Haftar visited Merkel for talks in Berlin.

“They discussed the current political and military situation,” the statement said.

“The chancellor stressed, as she did on Tuesday in her conversation with renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, the importance of signing the ceasefire that was recently agreed in Geneva by representatives of the conflict parties.”

The unity government in Tripoli is supported by Turkey, while Haftar is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and UN Security Council permanent member Russia.

Source: News Agencies