North African Leaders Plan Libyan Political Summit

Daily News Egypt

North African diplomats are planning to hold a summit in the near future to try to find ways of reconciling Libya’s competing factions, and to stem the tide of violence and instability wracking the beleaguered country. During a meeting in Tunis between the foreign ministers of Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria last week, the diplomats declared the importance of “Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” and argued against foreign intervention or military action in Libya.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi will come together with Libyan parties in order to refresh the peace process, amid concern that the extremist violence seen in Libya will spillover North African borders to nearby nations. Doubts have been expressed regarding the Algerian president’s ability to engage in the upcoming summit after he was forced to postpone his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel due to “acute bronchitis.”

According to Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jihnaoui, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who exercises power over much of Libya’s East, is expected in Tunis in coming days. A recent meeting in Egypt between internationally recognized Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and Haftar resulted in both parties agreeing to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in February 2018 and to create a committee comprised of 15 members from both sides tasked with looking to change the UN-negotiated Libyan Political Agreement.
The summit is seen as a vital step in preventing further instability as tension continues to grow. On February 20, Prime Minister al-Sarraj’s convoy came under fire in Tripoli in what is being reported as an “assassination attempt.” A spokesman for the UN-backed Government of National Accord said that it was “unclear who was behind the shooting or whether it was a targeted attack.”