Libya’s interior minister has completed a three-day allure offensive in France, while maintaining a tentative ceasefire in the war-torn country and diplomatic pushes for his leadership roles intensify.
Fathi Bashagha, who hopes to become Libya’s acting prime minister, is viewed by the UAE and forces in eastern Libya as under the influence of both the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey, a country that France is increasingly with. more in conflict, not only in Libya but in the Middle East.
If Bashagha, determined to present himself as a supporter of a pluralist democratic Libya, could win the support of France, or at least reduce his objections, he would increase his chances of taking Libya to elections next year.
In their talks in Paris, Bashagha met with the ministers of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Defense, and signed memoranda of understanding on closer French cooperation on security. French oil company Total was also in talks with the Libyan national oil corporation about expanding its activity.
France emphasized that the meetings were held within the “framework of regular contact that France has with all Libyan actors,” but the depth of its exchanges with Bashagha was surprising. France has been a covert supporter of Khalifa Haftar, the renegade general in charge of the eastern forces, who mounted a bloody but unsuccessful siege of Tripoli that ended in the summer. Bashagha’s visit was controversial for some Libyans, who saw it as treason.
The UN hopes Libya has finally taken a political turn, ending years of intermittent fighting, by agreeing on October 23 to an immediate nationwide ceasefire that has helped Libyan oil production soar to 1 again. , 2 million barrels per day, the highest level for more than a year. The ceasefire agreement requires all foreign forces and mercenaries to leave Libya within three months, which Turkey and the United Arab Emirates can resist.
Stephanie Williams, the UN special envoy for Libya, in her most optimistic speech yet to the UN security council, said Thursday that “the language of peace prevails over the language of war.”
In talks in Tunisia last week, the 75 delegates to the UN-sponsored Libya Political Dialogue Forum agreed to hold elections on December 24, 2021, the 70th anniversary of Libya’s birth, but were unable to agree on a procedure to select the new three-person presidency. council or interim prime minister.
The LPDF had already accepted that the three members of the new council would each represent one of the three historic regions of the country – Cyrenaica, Fezzan and Tripolitania – and several of the attendees wanted the vote of each of the three to be limited to delegates. of the region in question. Others wanted all delegates to vote together as a single college for each of the three members. A move to exclude the generation of politicians who have ruled Libya since 2011, including Bashagha, garnered majority support but fell short of the required threshold.
The meeting was marred by claims, signed by a majority of the 75 delegates, that there had been attempts to bribe some delegates to support certain candidates. Williams said it would investigate and seek to punish anyone found guilty.
Williams told a Turkish think tank this week that he was concerned that all parties may be preparing for a ceasefire break. “On the ground, tactical developments in the central region of Libya remain worrying as reinforcements continue to arrive on both sides and the risk of miscalculation persists,” he said. “In Tripoli, tensions between armed groups are increasing.”
In a sign that Turkey would not leave easily, Hulusi Akar, the Turkish defense minister, said he supported the UN peace process, “but these efforts must not restrict our existing ties with our Libyan brothers. Our presence and support for the GNA are based on an invitation and bilateral agreements and are in accordance with international law and provide a window of opportunity for diplomacy. “
Turkey came to the aid of the Tripoli government after Britain, the United States, NATO, Tunisia and Italy failed to respond to written requests to help repel Haftar’s assault.
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