Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has urged support for Libya's 5+5 commission, formally named the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission (JMC), to enable it to complete its mission, which includes ensuring the departure of all foreign forces and mercenaries from the North African country.
Addressing a meeting of foreign ministers of Libya's neighbours in Algeria on Monday, Shoukry praised what has been achieved by the JMC, including the opening of the coastal road between east and west.
The 5+5 Joint Military Commission, which brings together five military officials from the eastern and western camps in the Libyan conflict, is one of the three tracks in the settlement process that emerged during the Berlin Conference on Libya in mid-January 2020.
The Egyptian top diplomat affirmed Cairo's "unwavering" position of supporting security and stability in Libya and prioritising political solutions to preserve the country’s unity and national institutions in order to achieve a comprehensive settlement that takes into account all aspects of the Libyan issue.
Shoukry called for "comprehensive and credible" elections in December 2021 as agreed upon previously to put an end to the extended transitional period, end the Libyan division, and initiate a new phase where all Libyan institutions are united together to serve the aspirations of the people.
Shoukry also highlighted the significant role of neighbouring countries in helping ensure the stability of the security and political situation in Libya and achieving the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people.
The two-day meeting is attended by Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Chad, Mali, and representatives of the UN, the African Union, and the Arab League.
Ahead of the meeting Shoukry discussed with UN Special Envoy to Libya Ján Kubiš means to expedite the implementation of a comprehensive political settlement in Libya.
Shoukry and Kubiš discussed intensifying efforts to achieve a comprehensive political settlement in Libya in order to preserve the Libyan people's resources and meet the people's aspirations in stability and development, a statement by the Egyptian foreign ministry read.
The meetings in Algeria are scheduled to be attended by Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Chad, Mali, and representatives of the UN, the African Union, and the Arab League.
Earlier in the day, Shoukry met with his Algerian counterpart, Ramtane Lamamra, to discuss bilateral relations and coordination on regional issues.
In a press conference with Lamamra, Shoukry affirmed the “historic” relations between Egypt and Algeria and the two countries’ keenness to enhance bilateral relations and address the issues facing the region.
He said the countries participating in the meetings in Algeria have been significantly impacted by the situation in Libya and are highly keen that stability is restored in Libya so that the Libyan people could live in peace and security.
The top Egyptian diplomat thanked Lamamra for his country’s resumption of the meetings involving Libya’s neighbours to support Libyan stability and preserve its people’s resources.
The meetings in Algeria aim to expedite the end of the Libyan crisis in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the outcome of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum along with the first and second Berlin conferences on Libya.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry with his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra during their meeting in Algeria on Monday 30 August , 2021. Photo courtesy of Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Twitter account
Shoukry was received by Algeria's foreign minister upon his arrival in the Algerian capital on Sunday evening.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry with his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra during their meeting in Algeria late on Sunday 29, August , 2021. Photo courtesy of Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Twitter account
An official statement by the Egyptian foreign ministry said Shoukry's participation reflects Cairo's keenness to support the Libyan people and all efforts aimed at achieving a comprehensive political settlement in Libya.
The settlement, the statement added, includes holding the country's elections as previously agreed on by various Libyan parties by the end of this year as well as guaranteeing the departure of all foreign forces from the country to achieve the aspirations of the Libyan people.
The country's top diplomat is set to hold bilateral meetings with a number of his counterparts to discuss ways to boost bilateral cooperation regarding regional issues of common interest, the statement added.
Neighbours converge for Libya
Over the past few years, Algeria has hosted meetings with Libya's neighbours, including Egypt and Tunisia, to search for solutions to setlle the Libyan crisis and push forward the United Nations efforts in this regard.
This meeting today and tomorrow is the first of its kind in Algeria since Libya’s warring parties agreed on a ceasefire late last year and the parliament approved a unity government in March to lead Libya until the general elections, slated for 24 December, are held.
The ministerial meeting of Libya's neighbours is meant to resolve differences between Libyan political parties and ensure the removal of obstacles that are feared to delay the elections, and thus threaten the UN roadmap and the political process in the country.
Libya's interim authorities have recently reopened the Mediterranean coastal highway linking the long-divided eastern and western cities in the latest bid to reunite the territories after years of civil war.
However, the gathering in the North African country comes amid a growing rift between the unity government under Interim Prime Minister Abdul-Hamid Dbeibeh and the parliament under Speaker Aguila Saleh only four months before the election date.
Last week, Dbeibah refused to attend a parliamentary session to be questioned about the government’s performance or face a no-confidence vote.
In a speech last week, the interim PM accused parliament of deliberately obstructing the government’s work when it failed to vote on a state budget.
Egypt and Algeria, who share long borders with Libya. have been coordinating efforts to push for a political solution for the crisis in Libya and ensure that the elections will be held as scheduled.
In a visit to Egypt late in July, Ramtane Lamamra, the Algerian foreign minister, discussed the Libyan issue with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.
El-Sisi and Lamamra agreed on the need to activate the Libyan people’s political will by supporting state institutions and backing current efforts to preserve the country’s territorial integrity, a presidential statement read.
They affirmed the need for the implementation of the UN and international resolutions in this regard, including holding elections next December without delay and ensuring the exit of foreign mercenaries from the country.
In a press conference with Shoukry in Cairo, Lamamra said Egypt and Algeria have decided to shoulder their solidarity-related responsibilities towards Libya, urging the need for vigilance and support to Libyan legitimacy to end the crisis.
Lamamra affirmed continuous coordination with Egypt and Libya’s neighbours, voicing keenness to support the positive developments in the country and open new horizons of progress.
During the press conference, Shoukry said Egypt and Algeria are concerned about the challenges facing the Libyan people and want to restore stability in the country.
Egypt, Shoukry added, is optimistic that Libya will end its crisis and implement its election entitlement on 24 December, as scheduled, so that a government that represents the Libyan people and achieve security and stability is formed.
Egypt pushes for political solutions
Cairo has been pushing for a political settlement in Libya for years, a complete disarming of militias, an end to foreign intervention in the country, as well as a fair distribution of wealth between various regions in the country.
Egypt has hosted a number of Libyan dialogue meetings in Hurghada to bridge the gap between various Libyan parties.
On Wednesday, the head of Egypt's diplomatic mission in Tripoli Tamer Mustafa met with a number of ministers in the Libyan government to discuss preparations for re-opening the Egyptian embassy in Tripoli and the consulate in Benghazi.