Emmanuel Macron calls for end to ‘foreign interference’ in Libya
PARIS - The French president Emmanuel Macron has said that all foreign forces should get out of Libya, naming in particular the Turkish and Russian mercenaries deployed to the country.
Meeting Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah at the Elysée Palace in Paris on Tuesday, Macron said “As the Libyans themselves have demanded, we must put an end to all foreign interference, which involves the withdrawal of all foreign mercenaries’ forces on Libyan soil: the Russians, the Turkish, the Syrian mercenaries and all the others”.
He also told Dbeibah “We are working on this with you and with all our partners. And this pullout [of foreign troops] should go along with the creation of a unified army. It is necessary to guarantee the success of the national elections scheduled for the end of the year”.
According to the UN Security Council, Libya has more than 20,000 foreign combatants and mercenaries, including 13,000 Turkish-commanded Syrian mercenaries, 11,000 Sudanese, Russians, and Chadians.
Macron told Dbeibah that France is willing to provide political support to Libya. Last week, he mentioned that his government would offer millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses to African countries in order to help them accelerate their vaccination drives.
Macron told the Libyan premier: “You can count on France in the coming weeks and months in all fields… We fully support Libya and a fair and transparent distribution of Libyan wealth must be guaranteed”.
Dbeibah praised France for its essential support and vowed “effective and intense action” to “organise free, transparent and fair elections” at the end of the year.
At a press conference afterwards with the French leader, Dbeibah said his government is looking forward to more support from the French side in international forums, especially the Berlin 2 conference and its outcomes. The second Berlin summit had been announced shortly before the two men met.
They agreed to revive the Libyan-French Joint Higher Committee which Dbeibah said had not met since 2002. He went on to welcome the support from France, along with the rest of the EU to boost Libyan border security. Without elaborating, he said that there were joint Franco-Libyan security projects that would be put in place as soon as possible. One such project is certain to have been his country’s porous frontier with Mali, the northern part of which country is in the grip of Islamist terrorists groups affiliated with ISIS and al-Qaeda. Dbeibah’s delegation included his interior minister Khaled Mazen.
After the Libyan party had travelled on from their talks in Italy, they first had meetings with the French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Florence Parly, the armed forces minister.