Regional, stakeholders give support to Libya’s interim leaders

“My appeal to everybody is to recognise and accept these results and to work with the new authorities that were elected,” said UN Chief Antonio Guterres.
Sunday 07/02/2021
UN Chief Antonio Guterres. (AFP)
UN Chief Antonio Guterres. (AFP)

TRIPOLI--Regional and international stakeholders have expressed support to Libya's interim leaders who will govern the North African country till elections are held there later this year.

Meeting in Switzerland, the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, which includes 75 UN-picked delegates from across the country, appointed, Friday, Mohammad Younes Menfi, a Libyan diplomat from the country’s east, as chairman of the Presidential Council. The forum also chose Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah, a powerful businessman from the western city of Misrata, as prime minister.

The three council members each represent a region of old Libya: Tripolitania in the west, Cyrenaica in the east, and Fezzan in the southwest.

The appointment caps months of UN-brokered talks that resulted in an agreement to hold elections Dec. 24.

Libya is divided in two main camps: Forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) in the west and those allied to the eastern administration backed by the Libyan National Army (LNA).

Losing candidates in the vote - including the eastern-based parliament head Aguila Saleh and western-based interior minister Fathi Bashagha and defence minister Saleh Namroush - have made public statements of support for the new government.

Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who was appointed army chief by the eastern-based parliament, did not issue an immediate statement. However, his general command headquarters said it welcomed the agreement and called for all to help reaching the December elections.

In a statement, the Libyan National Army he leads congratulated “the national figures” who were chosen in a UN-brokered process.

“The Libyan people hope that it will work tirelessly to provide services and prepare the country for general elections on Dec. 24, 2021,” the statement said, referring to the interim government, which includes a prime minister and three-seat Presidential Council.

Regional and international reactions 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday welcomed the formation of the new interim government for Libya and called on all Libyan and international parties to respect results.

"My appeal to everybody is to recognise and accept these results and to work with the new authorities that were elected," Guterres told reporters. "It is absolutely essential to unify Libya, and to move onwards on the way to peace."

France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the United States also welcomed the agreement, saying a "long road still lies ahead".

In rare televised comments late Saturday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, whose government supports Haftar's Libyan National army,  said the appointment of the interim government was “a step in the right direction.”

“We are supportive of them. ... We are ready to cooperate with them for Libya’s recovery and to prepare for the elections in Libya,” el-Sissi said.

The Egyptian leader said his threat last year to send troops to Libya helped “start a genuine period for peace” in the oil-rich country.

“We are keen that each move ... aims to build peace, prosperity and maintain stability in a region that has been suffered in the past 20 years a very great shock,” he said.

On the other side of the spectrum, Tayyip Erdogan the president of Turkey, which supports the GNA, spoke by phone with Dbeibeh and the new presidency council head Abdulmajid al-Menfi to congratulate them, his office said on Saturday.

Erdogan told them that Turkey, whose forces helped repel an attack on Tripoli by Haftar last year, would "continue to contribute to the peace, security and welfare" of Libyans, it added.