Rival Libya leaders meet for first time since May

Marsha Scott
November 15, 2018

Libya is now run by two administrations: a weak United Nations -backed Government of National Accord, run by Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli, and another in the eastern part of the country, headed by Haftar.

The accord reached at Tuesday's meeting held on the sidelines of an global conference in Palermo on stabilizing Libya "is a major step forward" which "has surpassed the Italian government's expectations", according to sources.

Despite Haftar having said he would not participate in the conference, photos showed him with Serraj and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte embracing and smiling in a three-way handshake.

Later, UN Libyan envoy Ghassan Salame said Haftar, had committed himself to a UN action plan and to holding a national conference early next year prior to elections.

Italy's efforts to host a summit on stabilizing Libya after its seven-year-old conflict appeared to fall flat Tuesday, as organizers on the second and final day of the meeting in Sicily failed to even confirm whether representatives of the main factions were attending.

"The informal meeting held this morning was presented as a meeting among prominent protagonists of the Mediterranean region, but this is a misleading and harming stance that we strongly condemn", Oktay said in a note, as reported by Turkish news agency Anadolu.

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Head of the Libyan National Army, General Khalifa Haftar, who is now engaged in the second Libyan Civil War, reached the Italian city of Palermo to attend an worldwide conference.

Italy, the former colonial ruler in oil-rich Libya, had hosted the meeting in hopes of helping Libya crack down on Islamic militants and human trafficking while making progress on a United Nations action plan for improving security, economic and political problems in the country.

After talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in late October, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would be represented at the Palermo conference "at a very high level".

Libya plunged into chaos after the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, and it is now governed by rival administrations in the east and west with both relying on the support of militias.

For this reason, he concluded, it was important to bring around the table, at the conference in Palermo, all actors affected by the situation, including Libya's neighboring countries.

Eventually, the West hopes Libyans will have a democratic election, but the conference isn't aiming to fix a date.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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