| 3 March 2024, Sunday |

Libya Berlin talks to focus on elections and foreign forces

Libya talks in Berlin on Wednesday will focus on ensuring a planned election goes ahead, withdrawing foreign fighters and mercenaries and unifying the country’s security forces, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

Speaking before the start of talks among foreign powers seeking to aid a political solution to the conflict, he said the participants wanted to “ensure international support is there”.

Standing alongside him, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Libya must hold its planned elections. “We share the goal of a sovereign, stable, unified and secure Libya, free from foreign interference,” he added.

Helped by the United Nations, Libya has over the past year made swift progress in addressing a decade of chaos and violence that at one stage threatened to escalate into a full-scale regional conflict.

Rival administrations in the east and west of the country that had been at war with each other agreed a ceasefire and formed a unity government working to hold elections in December.

However, big risks persist with questions over all sides’ commitment to the elections, and with the continued presence of myriad armed groups backed by foreign forces or mercenaries.

The Berlin meeting, which includes Libya’s interim unity government, the United Nations, and powers involved in the conflict, aims to build international support for the political process and to cement the ceasefire.

It follows a previous conference in Berlin early last year that set out political, military and economic tracks to resolve a decade of chaos and violence since a NATO-backed uprising ousted Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The political progress emerged in the wake of eastern commander Khalifa Haftar’s failed 14-month assault on Tripoli, as a new frontline solidified near the coastal city of Sirte.

Haftar was backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt. The Tripoli government was supported by Turkey, which ultimately helped it repel the assault.

  • Reuters