Algeria offers to host reconciliation forum on Libya

The African Union “has taken note of the Algerian offer to host a forum of national reconciliation … to find a Libyan solution to the crisis.”
Friday 31/01/2020
Algeria's Foreign Minister Sabri Sambouk speaks in Algiers, January 27. (AFP)
Algeria's Foreign Minister Sabri Sambouk speaks in Algiers, January 27. (AFP)

BRAZZAVILLE – Algeria on Thursday offered to host a reconciliation forum on Libya during a meeting of African leaders discussing ways to end the long drawn-out conflict, the African Union said.

The talks were attended by Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union (AU) Commission, and Ghassan Salame, the UN secretary-general’s special representative, along with several African presidents.

An AU statement said it “has taken note of the Algerian offer to host a forum of national reconciliation” and underscored the pressing need for “an inclusive dialogue uniting all the Libyan parties… to find a Libyan solution to the crisis.”

The African leaders had been due to meet behind closed doors with the head of Tripoli’s UN-recognised government Fayez al-Sarraj, and separately with envoys from strongman Khalifa Haftar, who controls eastern Libya.

The African leaders included the presidents of Congo-Brazzaville, which hosted Thursday’s talks, as well as of Mauritania and Djibouti. There was no official confirmation if the meetings had taken place.

Salame on Thursday accused foreign actors of meddling in Libya in violation of commitments made at an international summit in Berlin this month.

“These manoeuvres to resupply the two parties threaten to precipitate a new and much more dangerous conflagration,” he told the UN Security Council in New York.

“They violate the spirit and the letter of the Berlin Conference,” Salame said.

“I urge the parties and their foreign sponsors to desist from reckless actions and instead renew their expressed commitment to work towards a ceasefire,” he added.

Leaders of the 55-nation AU are to meet in Addis Ababa on February 9 and 10.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi. 

Turkey is planning a military deployment to Libya to shore up the UN-backed government while Haftar is backed by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

The crisis has deeply worried countries to the south of Libya, which are already battling a bloody jihadist insurgency.

“Africa’s worry is that there’s a risk that all these weapons (from Libya) will transit through the Sahel,” Senegalese President Macky Sall said on Tuesday.

UN envoy slams violations of pledge to end foreign meddling in Libya

Salame accused “unscrupulous” foreign actors Thursday of continuing to meddle in Libya’s conflict, in violation of commitments made at an major international summit in Berlin this month.

Salame said actors inside and outside of Libya “cynically nod and wink towards efforts to promote peace” but continue to “double down on a military solution.”

He told the United Nations Security Council via video link from Brazzaville that maneuvers to resupply the two warring parties despite a UN embargo “threaten to precipitate a new and much more dangerous conflagration.”

“They violate the spirit and the letter of the Berlin Conference,” Salame said in an impassioned briefing to the 15-member council.

“I urge the parties and their foreign sponsors to desist from reckless actions and instead renew their expressed commitment to work towards a ceasefire,” he added.

World leaders committed to ending all foreign interference and to uphold a weapons embargo to help end Libya’s long-running civil war during a summit in the German capital on January 19.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were among dignitaries at the conference.

Salame said he was “deeply worried” by military reinforcements to both sides in the conflict despite the pledge to halt arms shipments to the belligerents.

He said they raised “the specter of a broader conflict engulfing the wider region.”

“(The warring parties) have continued to receive a sizable amount of advanced equipment, fighters and advisors from foreign sponsors,” Salame said.

He cited in particular the reinforcement of Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) forces in Tripoli, including arms, equipment and soldiers, including foreign fighters.

Salame said foreign fighters supportive of the GNA have been flown to Tripoli “by the thousands and deployed in forward locations, alongside Libyan forces.

He added that his mission had recorded more than 110 reported violations of a fragile ceasefire backed by both Ankara and Moscow that was installed on January 12.

(AW and agencies)