Libyan leaders back unity government efforts after talks in Cairo

Heads of the Presidential Council, High Council of State and House of Representatives met at the invitation of Arab League Secretary General

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit, second left, meets with Libyan leaders Mohamed Al Menfi, right, Mohamed Takala, second right, and Aguila Saleh in Cairo. AP Photo
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The leaders of three Libyan political bodies agreed to work on forming a unity government in the divided country after talks in Cairo hosted by the Arab League.

A political process to resolve more than a decade of conflict in Libya has stalled since a UN-backed plan to hold elections in December 2021 collapsed amid disputes over electoral laws and the eligibility of the main candidates. The country remains divided between rival governments in the west in Tripoli and the east in Benghazi.

On Sunday, the chairman of the Presidential Council, Mohamed Al Menfi, the head of the High Council of State, Mohamed Takala, who are both based in Tripoli, and Aguila Saleh, speaker of the House of Representatives in Benghazi, said they agreed on the “necessity” of forming a unified government to supervise the delayed elections.

“The measures that were agreed upon today, we believe, are a very important beginning,” Mr Al Menfi said after the meeting, held at the invitation of Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

“They are results that live up to the ambition of Libyans to hold elections.”

Mr Al Menfi assumed his post in 2021 as part of the UN-backed process that appointed an interim Government of National Unity under Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah to lead the country towards elections later that year.

The House of Representatives was elected in 2014, while the High Council of State was formed as part of a 2015 political agreement and drawn from a parliament elected in 2012, the year after dictator Muammar Qaddafi was overthrown in an uprising backed by western air strikes.

The House of Representatives no longer recognises the legitimacy of the GNU but Mr Dbeibah has vowed not to cede power to another government without national elections.

Saudi Arabia welcomed the outcome of the talks in Cairo to reach a political settlement in Libya, the kingdom's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday.

International diplomacy to resolve the conflict in Libya has focused on pushing for parliamentary and presidential elections to replace the House of Representatives, the High Council of State and the GNU.

Updated: March 11, 2024, 10:47 AM