French Foreign Minister pushes from Tripoli rivals to rally around Paris joint declaration

Libyan Head of Presidential Council and French Foreign Minister in Tripoli (Photo: Media Office of GNA)

France’s Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian arrived in Libya on Monday to meet rival political leaders and offer support for a deal aimed at stabilising the strife-torn Libya.

In Tripoli, Le Drian met The Head of the Presidential Council Fayez Al-Serraj and planned to hold talks with Abdulrahman Swehli, a politician connected to some of Haftar’s rivals who heads a parliamentary council in the capital.

Le Drian was also to visit Misrata before heading to Benghazi to meet Haftar and to Tobruk to meet the head of an eastern-based parliament aligned with him.

“The minister wants to consolidate this agreement by getting the parties not invited in July to support it,” said a French diplomatic source.

“He wants to ensure that everyone is playing the game and lay the groundwork for elections.”

The French minister’s visit is in line with President Emmanuel Macron’s push for a deeper French role in bringing Libyan factions together in the hope of countering militant violence and easing Europe’s migrant crisis.

“Our objective is the stabilisation of Libya in the interests of the Libyans themselves,” Le Drian said in a statement in Tripoli.

“A united Libya, equipped with functioning institutions, is the condition for avoiding the terrorist threat in the long term.” He added.

He said the Paris deal was meant to support the U.N.-backed accord for a government of national unity. Le Drian met U.N. special envoy Ghassan Salame on Sunday.

The French diplomatic source said the visit would fit into efforts by Salame to announce a road map to elections during the coming U.N. General Assembly.

“Seraj and Haftar clearly want to measure themselves in elections,” the source said.

Libya would likely need to agree on a new constitution or electoral law before elections, which will be a difficult task for the country’s divided institutions. Organising polls would also involve big logistical and security challenges.

“The ceasefire between non-terrorist elements is in general respected,” the French diplomatic source said.

“Haftar’s advances are accompanied by a strengthening of Seraj in the west so it’s creating a fragile balance that encourages a compromise.”

(Source: Reuters)

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