Egypt sponsors initiative to disarm Libya's militias

Ahram Online, Monday 25 Aug 2014

Egyptian and Libyan foreign ministers announce initiative a day after a Tripoli militia blamed Egypt and the UAE for airstrikes in the Libyan capital

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel Aziz (R) and his Egyptian counterpart (L) attend the Fourth Ministerial Meeting for the Neighbouring Countries of Libya in Cairo, August 25, 2014. (Photo:Reuters)

Egypt's foreign minister and his Libyan counterpart announced an initiative on Monday to bring stability to Libya, including a plan to disarm warring militias that have wreaked havoc on the country in recent weeks.

The announcement comes a day after Egypt's foreign ministry denied involvement in a series of airstrikes in the Libyan capital which targeted alleged militia strongholds.

Egyptian minister Sameh Shoukry along with Libya's Mohamed Abdel-Aziz presented the initiative in a televised press conference where both said that the crisis must be solved by Libya's regional neighbours and without intervention by non-Arab states.

However, a statement from Egypt's foreign ministry after the press conference said that the systematic disarmament of the militias will be sponsored by both regional countries and international support.

"We need to give Libya the chance to build a strong army and police and to reform its intelligence for it to be able to protect its airports," said Abdel-Aziz.

Unidentified war planes attacked targets in Libya's capital Tripoli on Sunday, hours after forces from the city of Misrata said they had seized the main airport.

The recent fighting in Libya is the worst since the NATO-backed campaign to oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Renegade general Khalifa Haftar has declared war on Islamist-leaning forces, part of the growing disorder that has swept the North African oil producer.

Sunday's conference was preceded by a ministerial meeting with Libya's neighbours – the fourth such meeting since the unrest escalated.

Shoukry stressed on Sunday that dialogue in Libya is a must to avoid military operations and violence and to ensure the country's unity.

He added that the disarmament plan includes a commitment from outside sources not to supply or sell weapons to the militias.

Meanwhile, Abdel-Aziz said Libya's security is vital to Egypt's security and vice versa.

Egyptians living in Libya have been fleeing in droves since the violence erupted, with thousands stranded along the Tunisian border earlier this month and Egyptian officials having to take extra measures to repatriate them.

The Libyan minister said the coming parliament will lead the country's political process, reconstructing and rehabilitating the state's legitimate institutions. The parliament, according to Abdel-Aziz, will be aided by Libya's future cabinet, to be formed soon.

Abdel-Aziz praised Egypt's efforts in leading the Libyan initiative, especially since Egypt is "occupied with the Palestinian ceasefire talks."

Another ministerial conference on Libya will take place in Sudan's Khartoum. An exact date has yet to be announced.

This is the second initiative sponsored by Egypt in the Arab world since the election of President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi in May.

Egypt is currently hosting ongoing ceasefire talks between Palestinian factions and Israel with hopes of ending the assault on the besieged Gaza Strip. The talks have not yet yielded a permanent truce.

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