Haftar, Al-Sirraj agree on nationwide ceasefire truce and elections

General Khalifa Hifter of the Egyptian-backed commander of Libya’s self-styled national army, left, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, center, and Libya’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj of the U.N.-backed government walk into the meeting room at the Chateau of the La Celle-Saint-Cloud, west of Paris, France, Tuesday, July 25, 2017. President Emmanuel Macron is hosting a meeting of the two main rival leaders of chaotic Libya, trying to play peacemaker in a country where the stakes are high for both Europe and Africa. (Photo: AP)

Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and the eastern commander of Operation Dignity Khalifa Haftar agreed to a conditional ceasefire and elections at Paris talks on Tuesday.

“We commit to a ceasefire and to refrain from any use of armed force for any purpose that does not strictly constitute counter-terrorism,” the rival leaders said after the talks.

French President Emmanuel Macron hosted the talks, stating that he hoped to “facilitate a political agreement” between the head of Libya’s unity government and the powerful Egyptian-backed commander when they met at a chateau in La Celle Saint-Cloud, outside the French capital.

One of the key problems is that Libya numbers two rival parliaments and three governments (the latest was formed in UN-brokered talks and was meant to replace the other two).

Haftar rejected the authority of Sarraj’s UN-backed government as his forces gained ground in the east of the country, supported by Egypt and United Arab Emirates.

The Paris talks agreement follows a first contact between Sarraj and Haftar in Abu Dhabi back in May.

That meeting was seen as a tentative step towards reconciliation in Libya, which has been mired in conflict and chaos since the 2011 uprising, when longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown by rebels supported by a French-led NATO air campaign.

Macron pledged during his campaign to make Libya a priority for his administration.

“The cause of peace has made a lot of progress today,” Macron told reporters after al-Serraj and Haftar shook hands, smiling, in front of cameras. “The Mediterranean (region) needs this peace.” According to France 24.

“The situation in Libya is extremely worrying for the region because it is positioned on the doorstep of Europe — and, thus, France,” said an official at the Elysée palace on Monday. “For reasons of regional stability, the fight against terrorism and the fight against illegal immigration, the president of the republic wanted to immediately take initiatives for Libya.” France 24 reported.

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