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06:49, 29 May 2017 Monday
21:35, 15 February 2017 Wednesday

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Tobruk chiefs fail to show up for Cairo meet: Libyan PM
Tobruk chiefs fail to show up for Cairo meet: Libyan PM

Khalifa Haftar, Akila Saleh both declined invitation to hold talks in Egypt, Libyan PM Fayez al-Sarraj asserts

World Bulletin / News Desk

 Two leaders affiliated with Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament turned down offers to meet in Cairo for political talks, Fayez al-Sarraj, head of Libya’s UN-backed unity government, said Wednesday.

Speaking to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper, al-Sarraj said that Khalifa Haftar -- who leads military forces loyal to Tobruk -- and Akila Saleh -- speaker of the assembly -- had both rejected offers to hold talks in the Egyptian capital on Tuesday.

"A planned meeting in Cairo failed to materialize yesterday after Field-Marshal Khalifa Haftar and… Akila Saleh both declined to attend," al-Sarraj was quoted as saying.

The planned meeting, al-Sarraj added, had been intended to tackle outstanding differences between the Tobruk-based parliament and al-Sarraj’s unity government, based in capital Tripoli.

"Their intransigence has led to political stagnation and will contribute to the Libyan people’s suffering," he asserted.

"Egypt is making tremendous efforts [to mediate between Libya’s rival camps], which we appreciate, but without dialogue, no meeting can succeed," he added.

Al-Sarraj also announced plans to unveil a new political roadmap "within days" while declining to elaborate further.

In response to a question on the formation of Libya’s next government, al-Sarraj said: "The priority now is to amend the Constitutional Declaration, which has continued to hinder the operation of parliament."

Issued in August of 2011, in the wake of Libya’s bloody popular uprising, the Constitutional Declaration is meant to serve as a national charter until a permanent constitution is drawn up.

Earlier this week, both Haftar and al-Sarraj arrived separately in Cairo for separate talks with Egyptian officials.

On Tuesday, the Egyptian army issued a statement voicing support for Libyan proposals to hold parliamentary and presidential polls by February of next year at the latest.

Libya has been wracked by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody uprising ended with the ouster and death of longtime strongman Muammar Gaddafi. 

In the wake of the uprising, the North African country’s stark political divisions yielded two rival seats of government, one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli, each of which boasts its own military capacity and legislative assembly. 

In an effort to resolve the political standoff, Libya’s rival governments signed a UN-backed agreement late last year establishing a government of national unity.


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Libya extremist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution
Libya extremist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution

The Libyan jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, which is linked to Al-Qaeda and deemed a terrorist organisation by the UN and United States, announced its "dissolution" in a communique published online on Saturday. Washington accuses the group of being behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi in which ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Ansar al-Sharia is one of the jihadist groups that sprung up in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, in the chaos following the death of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. They overran the city in 2014. East Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar earlier this month launched an offensive to oust jihadist fighters from their two remaining strongholds in Benghazi. In its communique Ansar al-Sharia said it had been "weakened" by the fighting. The group lost its leader, Mohammed Azahawi, in clashes with Haftar's forces in Benghazi at the end of 2014. Most of its members then defected to the so-called Islamic State group. Ansar al-Sharia later joined the Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi, a local alliance of Islamist militias. At its zenith, Ansar al-Sharia was present in Benghazi and Derna in eastern Syria, with offshoots in Sirte and Sabratha, western Libya. The organisation took over barracks and other sites abandoned by the ousted Kadhafi forces and transformed them into training grounds for hundreds of jihadists seeking to head to Iraq or Syria.