Egypt hosts Libya peace talks

Author : Mircea Birca | Thursday, July 28, 2016
Posted in category Africa, Africa News, Eurasia, Eurasia News
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Egypt is hosting high-profile talks among Libya’s top political and military figures aimed at resolving the war-ravaged country’s political deadlock, officials said on Thursday.

The head of Libya’s UN-brokered unity government, Fayez Al Serraj, has met over the past two days with Aqila Saleh, the head of the Libyan parliament.

Saleh was also to meet the head of the Cairo-based Arab League later on Thursday.

The Saleh-Serraj meeting — the first in months — sought to “open direct channels of communications after a period of separation,” said Abdullah Behlek, the spokesman for Saleh’s parliament, which is based in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

Libya’s powerful General Khalifa Hifter, backed by Saleh’s parliament, is holding separate meetings with both Saleh’s and Serraj’s deputies. Egypt has backed Hifter in the war against militants in eastern Libya over the past two years, including with training and weapons and logistics supplies.

Libya is bitterly divided among rival factions. Since 2014, it has been split between two governments and two parliaments, based in western and eastern Libya, respectively. In December, the UN brokered a deal to heal the rift, creating a unity government led by Serraj that is now based in Tripoli.

Saleh’s parliament — based in eastern Libya — remained the only internationally-recognised assembly in the country.

However, it has not endorsed the unity government, leading to the stalemate.

Among one of the main objections by the parliament is an article in the UN-brokered deal that effectively deprives lawmakers from having authority over the army.

Abdel-Basit Bin Hamel, a well-known Libyan journalist with close ties to officials meeting in Cairo, said the Egypt talks are trying to resolve who will command the Libyan army and whet the portfolio of the defense minister will entail.

The United Nations warned on Monday that the Libya conflict was preventing some 279,000 children from attending school across the war-torn country.

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