Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has told Libya’s prime minister he was confident Libyans would overcome the challenges they face while striving to build a “modern and strong” government in the war-torn North African state.
The Egyptian leader and interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh met in Cairo on Thursday to discuss progress of the internationally backed political process that would end with parliamentary and presidential elections in December, Mr El Sisi’s office said.
Their meeting came two days after Mr El Sisi, whose country shares a porous desert border with Libya, met in Cairo with Libyan speaker Aguila Saleh and Khalifa Haftar, commander of the National Libyan Army, both close Cairo allies.
Mr El Sisi pushed during that meeting for the holding of elections as scheduled and said his government would continue its efforts “with all Libyan brothers … to hold the significant presidential and parliamentary vote by the end of this year”.
The three senior Libyan officials are in Egypt to attend meetings of the High Joint Libyan-Egyptian Committee, which is mandated to promote closer ties between the neighbouring nations.
On Thursday, Mr El Sisi repeated his calls for foreign forces and mercenaries to leave the oil-rich country, a reference to Turkey’s military presence in Libya and what the UN estimates to be around 20,000 foreign forces and mercenaries, mostly Syrian, Turkish, Russian and Sudanese.
Egypt, Mr El Sisi told the Libyan prime minister, was prepared to extend “all necessary resources” to “prepare the climate” for the election.
UN-sponsored peace talks on Libya brought about a ceasefire last October after years of fighting between forces led by Mr Haftar and those belonging to the former government in Tripoli.
Libyan politicians have meanwhile failed to finalise a legal framework for voting to take place, throwing the election schedule into doubt.
With mounting international pressure, Parliament this month adopted a controversial presidential electoral law and said it was in the process of finalising it for parliamentary elections, the UN's envoy to Libya said.
The High Council of State, an executive body that among other duties proposes electoral laws, complained the law was adopted without consulting its members.
US special envoy to Libya Richard Norland urged the country’s leaders to compromise to meet popular expectations for the vote to be held on time.
Libya has been in turmoil since a Nato-backed popular uprising toppled long-time dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. The country has since been split between rival administrations, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.