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Haftar welcomes Al-Sarraj’s remaining in his position until next elections

November 14, 2018 at 4:43 am

(From Left) Libyan National Army’s Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, Libya’s parliament speaker Saleh Issa, Libya’s Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord Fayez Al-Sarraj, and President of the High Council of State of Libya Khaled Mechri in Paris, on 29 May 2018 [Etienne Laurent/AFP/ Getty Images]

Italian diplomatic sources said on Tuesday that Khalifa Haftar, leader of the forces backed by the House of Representatives in Tobruk (east), welcomed the remaining of the Head of the National Council of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord in Libya, Fayez Al-Sarraj, in his position until the holding of the upcoming elections in the country.

The sources pointed out that Haftar’s statements came after his meeting with Al-Sarraj, under the mediation of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, on the sidelines of the Peace Conference on Libya in Palermo.

The sources added that Haftar said during the meeting: “There is no need to change the horse while crossing the river”.

READ: In U-turn, Libya’s Haftar attends Italy conference

At a conference in Paris at the end of last May, the conflicting parties in Libya agreed to hold general elections on 10 December. However, internal and external differences made holding the elections at that date less likely to happen.

Italian News Agency AKI had earlier reported the holding of a meeting between Conte, Al-Sarraj, Haftar, UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salama and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

The news agency reported media sources that the meeting lasted for half an hour, on the sidelines of the Peace Conference on Libya. The conference was held in the conference rooms of the luxurious Villa Igea Hotel on the hills of Palermo, capital of Sicily.

The same sources added that the meeting also included Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, European Council President Donald Tusk and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

READ: Libya conference kicks off in Italy despite Haftar’s absence

On Tuesday morning, Haftar arrived at Villa Igea in Palermo, where the second day of the International Peace Conference on Libya was resumed. A few minutes earlier, the Russian prime minister arrived.

The meeting which brought together the conflicting parties in Libya came amid the denial of the General Command of the forces led by Khalifa Haftar, which controls most of the Libyan east, the latter’s participation in this international conference.

Since 2011, Libya has been witnessing a split that has recently been manifested in the control of the Khalifa Haftar forces, backed by the House of Representatives, of the Libyan east, while the internationally recognised Government of National Accord, supported by the Supreme Council of the State, controls most of the cities and towns in the west of the country.