Libya rivals agree to hold 2018 presidential elections

Libya rivals agree to hold 2018 presidential elections
2 min read
15 February, 2017
A meeting between Libya's conflicting authorities showed signs of progress on Tuesday, after officials agreed to hold presidential elections in February 2018.
Libya has been bogged down with years of conflict and instability [AFP]

Libya's conflicting factions agreed to hold presidential elections by February 2018, during a meeting which brought together the rival army chief and the head of the country's unity government in Cairo on Tuesday.

The UN-backed Government of National Accord head Fayez al-Sarraj and Marshal Khalifa Haftar attended the meeting along with Egyptian officials, including Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and the army Chief of Staff, Mahmoud Hejazi.

Among the set of outlines agreed upon by all those present was the preservation of Libya's unity, the country's sovereignty and plans to establish a stable structure, after years of conflict.

Attendees also reiterated their commitment to a modern civil state based on democracy, a peaceful transition of power and the fight against all forms of extremism and terrorism.

However, sources confirmed General Haftar refused to attend a press conference, suggesting it was not part of the agreed plan.

Earlier reports suggested Haftar had refused to meet Sarraj before receiving "guarantees that a possible agreement [would] not be rejected" by the powerful armed groups of Misrata in western Libya.

The GNA has struggled to assert its authority across the North African country since starting work in Tripoli nearly a year ago.

Haftar, whose forces control much of Libya's east, is backed by a parliament based in the far east of the country that has refused to recognise the unity government, in part because of a dispute over his future role in Libya.

Sarraj met Haftar in January last year in the eastern city of al-Marj shortly after he was named GNA head.

The UN-brokered agreement that created the unity government did not give Haftar a role in the new administration, but the Egypt-backed strongman made clear he was a key player when he seized control of major oil terminals in the country's east in September.

UN envoy Martin Kobler last week said talks had made progress on "possible amendments" to the political agreement, and notably on Haftar's future role.