PM says Libya’s military institution remains divided

Libyan PM Abdul Hamid Dbeibah speaks to Al Jazeera about reconciliation, elections, and renegade general Khalifa Haftar. [Photo: GNU]
The head of Libya’s unity government has told Al Jazeera he is hopeful that thousands of foreign mercenaries will soon withdraw from the country.

Libya’s Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah said in an interview with Al Jazeera Arabic, that following discussions with several countries, there were “hopeful signs” that foreign armed groups would leave Libya.

The presence of an estimated 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries on Libya’s territory is seen as a threat to the United Nations-backed transition leading to December 24 elections.

Libya’s unity government has for months demanded their “immediate” withdrawal.

The unity government, has also prioritised reconciliation efforts ahead of the national elections, Dbeibah said.

Dbeibah told Al Jazeera that while 80 percent of state institutions have been unified, the military institution remains divided. He added however that the 5+5 Joint Military Commission was working on unifying the military.

Dbeibah said his unity government does not coordinate matters with Haftar, but instead all coordination is carried out in Benghazi with the help of the police services and mayor.

He added that the elections will be held on time.

“We want the constitution, the elections, and the end of the transitional phase,” he told Al Jazeera.

Commenting on a cabinet meeting in the city of Benghazi that was postponed last month, Dbeibah said logistical issues were behind the cancellation. He promised that a cabinet meeting will be held in Benghazi soon.

Sources told Libyan Express last month that the cabinet meeting was postponed after gunmen loyal to Haftar prevented a government delegation from entering the city.

Dbeibah also told Al Jazeera that he remained committed to the GNA’s 2019 maritime agreement between Libya and Turkey, which aimed to boost Turkish maritime rights and influence in the Eastern Mediterranean and angered Greece and Cyprus.

“We disagree with Greece in its evaluation of the Libyan-Turkish maritime agreement. It serves Libyans and we will not give up on it,” he said.

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