Libyan sides to hold more ‘promising’ talks in Morocco to end war

Rabat is hoping to mediate between the Libyan sides to pave the way for UN peace talks in Geneva later this month

A fighter of the Libyan forces affiliated to the Tripoli government scans for targets from the minaret of a mosque in Sirte. AP, File  
A fighter of the Libyan forces affiliated to the Tripoli government scans for targets from the minaret of a mosque in Sirte. AP, File  
The National

Rabat says talks under way in Morocco to solve the Libyan conflict show promising signs despite thorny issues related to foreign interventions and competition for oil resources in the war-torn country.

The meetings between rival officials started on Sunday under the auspices of Morocco in the coastal town of Bouznika, south of Rabat, before larger peace talks that Libyan sources say are scheduled in the next few weeks.

“Morocco is embracing a promising Libyan dialogue run by the Libyans themselves,” Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita told a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers on Wednesday.

A stalemate in the six-year civil war contributed to a call for a ceasefire on August 21 by both the Government of National Accord in Tripoli and the House of Representatives in the east. The Libyan National Army based in Benghazi and led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar is yet to back the call but backed earlier ceasefire efforts several months ago.

The GNA was created as a result of talks in Morocco in 2015. Members of the Higher State Council, a pro-GNA advisory body based in Tripoli, is negotiating in Morocco with members of the HoR, the parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk and Benghazi, which is split in its support for Mr Haftar.

The GNA and HoR have announced that national elections will be held, drawing praise from world powers.

The latest fighting between the pro-GNA militias and the LNA that began in April last year derailed UN talks that planned to pave the way for elections and a reconciliation of administrations.

Mr Bourita said Morocco is aiming a “to make up for lost time” by having the two administrations “enter comprehensive political talks to end the manifestations of the conflict.”

He said “a permanent political solution” would eventually replace transitional arrangements officially in place since the first democratic election in the post-Muammar Qaddafi era in July 2012.

Al Arabiya news network reported on Thursday that the Turkish-backed GNA is unlikely to agree on the removal of Ankara’s forces from Libya as long demanded by the LNA, which is supported by Russia, Egypt and other and Arab countries.

Another point of contention between the two sides is oil export terminals on the Mediterranean.

Tribal groups believed to be allied to Field Marshal Haftar of the LNA in July closed the terminals after he called for an equitable distribution of oil revenue. They allowed port operations to resume a month later, but the coronavirus has severely affected production.

On Thursday, the country’s National Oil Corporation said that armed groups entered the Sharara oilfield on September 6 and exchanged fire with security.

“A shooting incident resulted in the death of an armed individual and the injury of another,” the corporation said, adding that investigations are ongoing.




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