Is France’s participation the key to breaking Libyan political deadlock?
It appears recently that France, the country who led the international coalition to overthrow the Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, no longer stands as a spectator, but seeks a role in breaking the ice in the political deadlock in Libya.
French President Emmanuel Macron has managed to broker a joint and direct meeting between rival factions in Libya, namely the UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and the commander of the Libyan armed forces, General Khalifa Haftar.
The meeting, held in Paris, announced a 10-point joint agreement to cease fire across all of Libya, and to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in March 2018.
It also stressed the willingness of the two sides to strengthen efforts in combating terrorism in Libya and to speed up the integration of fighters wishing to join the regular forc- es, as well as calling for disarmament and demobilization of other fighters and reintegrating them into civilian life.
“The French mediation had a great influence on the Libyan situation. It will definitely end the deadlock in Libya since signing the Skhirat agreement, especially since Paris has lately shown keenness and interest in Libyan affairs,” Mohamed Abdullah, a Libyan parliament member, told Xinhua on Tuesday .
He went on to say that France’s participation also has an influence on Libya’s neighbors, such as Tunis and Algeria, which consider Libyan affairs as a common interest due to their close connection in terms of fighting terrorism.
“We should not be overly optimistic, even though the outcome of the Paris meeting between Haftar and Serraj appears to be reassuring,” the lawmaker added.
“President Macron did not explain the pressure mecha- nisms to be applied to the parties to ensure the outcome of the meeting, most importantly the holding of next year’s elections.”
The Libyan parliament welcomed the meeting of Sarraj and Hafter, stressing that the application of the agreement must pass through the parliament and its dialogue committee.
Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Building Party of Libya rejected the outcome of the meeting, stressing that “there is no value for any amendments to the political agreement outside the umbrella of the UN.”
“Holding meetings under the auspices of individual countries is a deviation on the path of political agreement. This opens the way for the agendas of those countries to give leverage for one party over the other, or deepen the division and continue the crisis. Some countries are the problem, not the solution,” the party said in a statement.
Serraj and Hafter’s meeting in France comes more than two months after a similar talk was held in Abu Dhabi, where the two agreed to develop a strategy for the development and building of a unified Libyan army, the integration of the military institution under civilian authority, and the unification of all efforts to fight terrorism.
Since the Abu Dhabi meeting, there has been no direct meeting between the two parties to implement the outcome of the Abu Dhabi meeting, with no reasons specified.
Under Article 8 of the Libyan UN-sponsored political agreement, senior military and security posts are appointed by the government, whose prime minister holds the rank of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
However, this article mains controversial.
It was rejected by the head of the Parliament and Hafter, insisting that the supreme commander of the army is the head re- of the Parliament.
The National Human Rights Commission in Libya welcomed the outcome of the Paris meeting, considering it very positive and important to resolve the political crisis and helping the success of the Libyan political agreement.
“It is important to speed up the development of mechanisms to implement the Paris joint statement as well as the Abu Dhabi meeting outcome, according to a specific timetable in order to end human, security and economic suffering in Libya due to political division,” said Ahmed AbdelHakim Hamza, rapporteur of the National Committee for Human Rights in Libya.