Khalifa Haftar agrees to Libya ceasefire in Egypt-led peace effort

It proposes an elected leadership council in Libya and a ceasefire starting on June 8

Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar walks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt April 14, 2019 in this handout picture courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency. The Egyptian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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Egypt on Saturday announced a blueprint for a political settlement to the conflict in Libya and asked the UN to invite warring parties to Geneva to negotiate an agreement on implementing the plan.

The proposals also called for a truce from Monday morning, the withdrawal from Libya of “foreign mercenaries” and the disarming and dismantling of militias.

They included the creation of a panel representing all three regions of Libya – west, east and south – to draft a new constitution for the country.

Other proposals include a three-man presidential council to appoint a prime minister, and for a government in which the representation of the three regions is proportionate to the size of their population.

“This is an important moment that I had often looked forward to in recent years: a moment to declare an initiative that, if sincere intentions prevail, will usher in a new phase in Libya’s return to a normal and safe life,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said in televised comments.

Mr El Sisi spoke while flanked by eastern Libyan commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and Parliamentary Speaker Aguila Saleh, whose chamber is based in the east.

There were no representatives from their chief rival, the Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, and no immediate reaction from the GNA.

Mr El Sisi said the Libyan leaders had “a genuine desire to enforce the will of the Libyan people to see stability returning to Libya".

The UAE swiftly expressed its support for the Egyptian initiative.

“The Emirates declares its support for the good Egyptian efforts calling for an immediate ceasefire in Libya,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-Operation said in a tweet.

Libya has been mired in turmoil since a popular uprising in 2011 deposed and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

The country has since been divided into rival administrations in the east and west.

Repeated attempts at reconciling the country’s rivals have failed as the country plunged deeper into chaos and violence.

On Friday, Turkish-backed forces loyal to the GNA reportedly captured the last major stronghold near Tripoli held by Field Marshal Haftar’s Libyan National Army, the latest setback in its 14-month offensive to capture the Libyan capital.

He has pledged to take Tripoli and rid Libya of extremist militias in the capital and elsewhere in the vast, energy-rich nation.

Field Marshal Haftar's troops had withdrawn from the town of Tarhouna, extending the control of the Tripoli government over most of north-west Libya, LNA military sources told Reuters.

There was no official confirmation from the LNA.

“We warn against the insistence by any party to pursue a military solution to the Libyan crisis,” Mr El Sisi said.

Egypt and Libya share a porous desert border from which deadly attacks on security forces blamed on militant groups were launched.

“The stability of Libya is an indivisible part of Egypt’s own stability,” Mr El Sisi said.

He left it for the UN to decide on a date to start the proposed negotiations in Geneva.

But Mr El Sisi made it clear that he wanted “eastern representatives”, the Tripoli government and political and societal groups to be invited along with representatives from the UN, African Union, EU, Arab League and Libya’s neighbours.

No comment was immediately available from the UN.