Egypt’s president heads to Paris to attend int’l conference on Libya

Amr Kandil , Thursday 11 Nov 2021

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is heading to Paris on Thursday to attend an international conference on the state of affairs in Libya that is scheduled for 12 November at the invitation of France’s President Emmanuel Macron.

File photo: Egyptian President Abdel-Fatath El-Sisi. Reuters

The conference comes almost a month before the scheduled presidential and parliamentary elections in Libya — as agreed upon in the UN-led talks that were held last year — in a bid to restore Libyan stability after a decade of civil war since a 2011 uprising.

During the conference, El-Sisi will highlight the need for a concerted effort by the international community to support Libya during the “historical turning point it is currently going through,” Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement.

This includes holding the long-awaited Libyan elections on time this December and the exit of all mercenaries and foreign troops and fighters from Libyan territories.

El-Sisi will also shed light on Egypt’s ongoing efforts on the various economic, political, and security levels in this regard.

Along with El-Sisi and Macron, US Vice President Kamala Harris, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will also be attending the conference.

The international community on many occasions have reaffirmed the need to hold both the presidential and legislative elections on time, especially at the Berlin Conference last June.

Earlier this week, Libya opened candidate registration for the elections, with a few names standing out at the moment, including eastern Libya strongman Khalifa Haftar and Seif El-Islam Kadhafi, the son of the overthrown president in 2011.

Presidential polls are slated for 24 December, but the parliament is willing to delay the legislative election until January, although world leaders are still pressing for both elections to be held by the end of the year.

Libya’s High Electoral Commission announced on Sunday the opening of candidate registration for both the presidential and legislative elections from 8 to 22 November.

While a law for the parliamentary elections was agreed upon by Libya’s eastern-based parliament early in October, it was rejected by the Tripoli-based High Council of State, a body acting as a Senate.

With no agreed upon electoral law so far, holding elections by December remains challenging.

The international community — notably Egypt — have also urged for an end to the heavy foreign military presence in Libya as a condition for the restoration of Libya’s sovereignty and unity.

In October, the UN-backed 5+5 Joint Military Commission signed a comprehensive action plan for the gradual and balanced withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign fighters from the war-torn country.

The conference in Paris also comes amid growing tensions between the Libyan Government of National Unity and the Presidential Council.

Earlier this month, the council decided to suspend Foreign Minister Najla Al-Mangoush and barred her from traveling abroad over allegations of monopolising foreign policy, a decision rejected by the government.

During the visit to Paris, El-Sisi will also hold a summit with Macron to discuss bilateral relations, which have witnessed a qualitative leap over the past years, Rady said.

The presidents will continue coordination and consultations on a number of regional and international issues of mutual concern, Rady added.

Furthermore, El-Sisi’s programme during the visit includes a series of meetings with key officials in the French government to discuss boosting cooperation regarding investments, as well as in the economic, commercial, and military fields.

The president is scheduled to also meet with a number of presidents and premiers to discuss boosting cooperation and to consult on various regional and international issues.

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