Emmanuel Macron calls for end to 'foreign interference' in Libya

French president meets Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah to discuss political transition

French President Emmanuel Macron met Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah in Paris on Tuesday for talks on ways to support a political transition and greater stability in the country.

“We must put an end to all foreign interference, which involves the withdrawal of all foreign mercenaries’ forces on Libyan soil: the Russians, the Turkish, the Syrian mercenaries and all the others,” Mr Macron said.

Mr Dbeibah praised France for its support and pledged “effective and intense action” to “organise free, transparent and fair elections” at the end of the year.

The leaders met after Tuesday's announcement that Germany and the UN would hold a conference on Libya this month in Berlin, bringing together powers with interests in the country and its transitional government.

The Berlin meeting of foreign ministers follows up on a January 2020 summit where leaders agreed to respect an arms embargo for Libya and to drive the North African nation’s warring parties to a full ceasefire.

The agenda for the June 23 conference includes discussions about preparing for elections in December and the withdrawal of foreign forces from Libya.

The countries that have been involved in the peace process include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with the UAE, Italy and Turkey.

The Berlin conference will be the first time the Libyan transitional government is represented at such an event, the German Foreign Ministry said.

It will “take stock of progress” since the first Berlin gathering and discuss “the next steps needed for a sustainable stabilisation".

“The main focus will be on preparations for the national elections scheduled for December 24, and on the withdrawal of foreign troops and mercenaries from Libya as agreed in the ceasefire,” the ministry said.

“In addition, steps towards the creation of unified Libyan security forces will be discussed.”

Libya desperately seeks stability

Libya has been mired in chaos since a Nato-backed uprising toppled long-time dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who was later killed, in 2011.

Afterwards, the country was divided between a government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities in the country’s east.

In April 2019, east-based commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army launched an offensive to capture Tripoli.

The 14-month campaign collapsed after Turkey increased its military support of the Tripoli government with hundreds of troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.

An October ceasefire included a demand that all foreign fighters and mercenaries leave Libya within 90 days.

That led to a deal on the December elections and a transitional government that took office in February.