From left: Salamé, Buyoya, Abul-Gheit and Mogherini holding a press conference at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on Monday (Photo: AP)
“The Quartet has agreed parliamentary and presidential elections in Libya must be held in a political and security environment that allows Libyan citizens to freely express their views,” said Arab League chief Ahmed Abul-Gheit in a press conference following the conclusion of the Quartet’s meeting at the Arab League’s headquarters in Cairo on Monday
The Libya Quartet brings together the Arab League, the African Union, the United Nations and the European Union in support of UN mediation and regional efforts to promote political transition in Libya.
Federica Mogherini, the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of the European Commission, stressed that the EU remained committed to providing support to Libya and its African neighbours.
“We want to help the Libyans unite and end their conflicts. Positive steps on the economic and security levels have already been taken and there is hope for a better future,” she said in the press conference.
Pierre Buyoya, a former president of Burundi and the AU’s High Representative for Mali and the Sahel, said at the press conference that the situation in Libya remains of great concern to the AU given that the strife-torn state has borders with six African countries.
“The Libyan file is a top priority for the AU which is why we formed a committee devoted to Libyan affairs. We support the UN in its efforts to hold elections in Libya and we are happy to help all the bodies that will organise these elections,” he said.
The Quartet meeting was attended by Mogherini, Ghassan Salamé, the UN envoy to Libya, and Abul-Gheit.
Salamé briefed the meeting on the progress of UN mediation efforts and ways in which key regional bodies can support the UN were discussed. Participants also agreed to continue efforts to unite the Libyan army.
The ongoing Libyan crisis poses threats to Arab and African states as well as the EU.
Europe is concerned that unless the situation in Libya is resolved it will continue to contribute to the growing number of migrants illegally crossing the Mediterranean.
Other members of the Quartet hope that restoring a strong central authority in Libya will reduce threats to the security of Libya’s neighbours.
The Quartet is searching for ways to help Libyan parties resolve outstanding differences over the Skhirat agreement and hold a national reconciliation conference, paving the way for parliamentary and presidential elections.
The Skhirat agreement was signed in December 2015 in Morocco. The agreement created a Presidential Council and a High Council of State and established the government of national accord.
The next Quartet meeting is likely to be held in the AU’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa within weeks.
*This story was first published in Al-Ahram Weekly