Members of Libya’s High Council of State have agreed to meet a delegation from the Libyan House of Representatives in Cairo as part of talks hosted by Egypt to reach a political settlement to the Libyan civil conflict, according to Egypt’s army spokesman. Egypt’s Army Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazi, who is mediating talks between Libyan factions, received on Thursday the delegation from Libya’s High Council of State with the attendance of Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry. Talks were held on Monday and Tuesday between the chairman of the Libyan Presidential Council Fayaz Al-Sarraj, who is based in the capital Tripoli in the west of the country and is recognised by the UN as the country’s president, and Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar and Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh, who both represent the House of Representatives in eastern Libya’s Tobruk. Attendants of the meeting expressed their appreciation for the Egyptian role to reach a solution to the Libyan crisis, calling on Libya’s House of Representatives to make use of this opportunity to save the situation in the country. Over the past months, Cairo has held meetings with different Libyan political factions, where Egypt has stressed the need for a political consensus to end the crisis in the country.
A military leadership will never take hold of Libya” Belhaj told Middle East Eye. “Haftar has no chance at ruling this country at all and the coming days will attest to this”.Belhaj, who heads the al-Watan Party, is based in Tripoli where the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) has held power since December 2015. But the GNA’s authority faces huge challenges. Egypt-allied Haftar and the head of the Presidential Council of the GNA, Fayez Al-Sarraj, met in Cairo earlier this week as part of a series of Tunisian-Algerian-Egyptian initiatives aimed at resolving Libya’s crisis. Although Sarraj and Haftar refused to meet face-to-face, they agreed to honor a plan to create a joint committee to negotiate reconciliation and elections by February 2018, despite lingering tensions. The discussions revolved around forming a mini-government that would have a unified military council headed by Haftar in cooperation with military officers from all across Libya. The initiative reportedly gathered support from Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt, three countries that have over the past months been involved in mediation efforts focused on launching a Libya-Libya dialogue for national reconciliation. Despite the combined pressure from Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt to resume peace talks, the political process is unlikely to move forward in the foreseeable future because on the one hand Haftar is convinced he doesn’t need a deal and the other side is very fragmented.
On Wednesday the Tobruk-based Libyan House of Representatives said that it considers a recent Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni and Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya Fayez al-Sarraj to be null and void. The agreement was for cooperation and development and against clandestine migration, human trafficking and smuggling. It also included measures to strengthen border control. The anouncement was made by the Tobruk parliamentary body itself in a statement through the Al-Wasat website, which said that the presidential council and its president did not have jurisdiction to make such choices on the basis of the constitution and judicial sentences. ”An issue like that of clandestine migration, ” the statement said, ”is one of the important issues linked to the choice of the Libyan people through the representatives that they elected democratically through voting, and not the interests of individuals that do not have the trust of the House of Representatives, which is the legitimate power, nor the interests of European countries, and especially the Italian Republic.” Italy, it continued, ”is trying to get rid of the burden and the dangerous problems caused by clandestine migration at the security, economic and social level in exchange for a bit of material support that it is forced to offer to reduce the number of illegal migrants.”