Egypt’s parliament has delayed to Monday a session to vote on a mandate for President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to intervene militarily in Libya amid escalating tensions, a leading MP said.
Mostafa Bakri, an independent MP and journalist, said there were demands that discussions on the mandate be held in a closed session.
The postponement comes one day after informed sources told Ahram Online that parliament is expected to hold a plenary meeting this week to discuss the political and military situation in neighbouring Libya.
The sources said the discussion is to be followed by a vote to mandate President El-Sisi to intervene militarily in Libya to help defend the western neighbour against Turkish aggression.
El-Sisi met on Thursday with leaders of Libyan tribes in Cairo, where they called on him to authorise the Egyptian Armed Forces “to intervene to protect the national security of Libya and Egypt if they see an imminent danger to both countries.”
President El-Sisi said he would do so after obtaining approval from the Egyptian parliament.
MPs told Ahram Online that El-Sisi's words go in line with Article 152 of Egypt's constitution, which states that “the president of the republic is the supreme leader of the Armed Forces. He shall not declare war or send the Armed Forces outside the state's borders to undertake fighting missions unless he first seeks the opinion of the National Defence Council and the approval of a two-thirds majority of MPs.”
Egypt, the UAE and Russia are backing military commander Khalifa Haftar in eastern Libya, while Turkey supports the Tripoli-based GNA.
The tensions come one month after El-Sisi had warned that Cairo has a legitimate right to intervene in the neighbouring country to restore security and stability after GNA-affiliated forces pushed back Haftar’s forces in the capital.
El-Sisi said that any intervention in Libya by Egyptian forces “would be led by the Libyan tribes,” stressing that the Libyan frontline of Sirte and Al-Jufra is “a red line” for Egyptian national security.
The Egyptian president’s statements came weeks after El-Sisi, Haftar, and the speaker of the Libyan parliament Aguila Saleh announced a peace initiative, dubbed the Cairo Declaration, to end the civil war in Libya through a ceasefire and an elected leadership council.
The Cairo plan was drafted after the collapse of an offensive launched by Haftar in April 2019 to capture the Libyan capital, further extending the rival GNA’s control over most of northwest Libya.