France to host summit on Libya in November



France will host an international conference on Libya on November 12, a month before the country plans to hold elections to unify east and west to end a decade of civil war for good.

“In view of the December elections, France will organize, around the President of the Republic, an international conference on Libya on November 12”, declared the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, during a conference of press on the sidelines of the UN. General Assembly (AGNU).

Le Drian and his German and Italian counterparts Heiko Maas and Luigi Di Maio will also co-chair a meeting on Libya on Wednesday in New York.

France is calling for the elections to be held on time and for the “departure of foreign forces and mercenaries,” Le Drian said.

The ratification earlier this month of an electoral law clearly tailored to the putschist general Khalifa Haftar, who controls eastern Libya, raised tensions three months before the crucial election.

The law was not put to a vote and was signed by the head of the parliament sitting in the eastern city of Tobruk, Aguila Saleh, an ally of Haftar.

The head of the Tripoli-based High Council of State (HCS), which acts as a senate, Khalid al-Mishri, rejected the legislation, which he said was passed “without a legal vote or consensus”.

The HCS on Monday proposed a postponement of at least a year of the presidential election, for lack of consensus on the electoral law.

Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangouch also did not rule out postponing the elections at the end of August.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, who has expressed his support for Haftar, is pushing for legislative and presidential elections to be held as scheduled on December 24.

The United States also described the poll as “the best opportunity it has had in a decade to end the conflict.”

In December, the UN estimated that there were some 20,000 mercenaries and foreign fighters in Libya, including Russians from the private security company Wagner Group, Chadians, Sudanese and Syrians. Several hundred Turkish soldiers are present in Libya as part of a bilateral agreement with the previous internationally recognized government in Tripoli.

The North African country was plagued by violence and political turmoil in the aftermath of the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi and in which he was killed.

In recent years, the oil-rich country has been divided between two rival administrations backed by foreign powers and a myriad of militias.

While Turkey and Qatar were the main donors to the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), Haftar was supported by Egypt, Russia, France and the United Arab Emirates (UAE ).

After the forces of East warlord Haftar were routed from the west of the country last year, the two sides signed a ceasefire in Geneva in October, and an interim government was set up earlier this year to lead the country towards scheduled elections.

France played a leading role in the NATO air campaign that helped topple autocratic leader Gaddafi in 2011.

The French worked alongside forces loyal to the putschist general, who rejected the official Libyan government. In July 2019, French missiles were found on a base south of the capital Tripoli belonging to militias loyal to Haftar. France admitted the weapons belonged to it but denied providing them to Haftar in violation of a UN arms embargo, saying French forces in Libya had lost track.



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