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Libya prefers French diplomat over Italy contender for EU mission leadership

September 4, 2023 at 8:20 pm

Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh in Tripoli, Libya [Hazem Turkia/Anadolu Agency]

Libya has chosen to overlook Italy’s proposed candidate to lead the European Union’s mission in the country, opting instead for a French diplomat, local Libyan media reports.

According to the report, Interim Libyan Prime Minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh’s government in Tripoli has rejected Italy’s candidate, Nicola Orlando, in favour of France’s Patrick Simonnet. The move, deemed unusual in diplomatic circles, signals a departure from the status quo and suggests Libya’s inclination toward strengthening ties with France.

Italy’s candidate, Nicola Orlando’s extensive engagement with Libyan National Army leader, Khalifa Haftar, a prominent figure in eastern Libya and seen as a rival to the current Libyan government, seemed to have played a role in his rejection, the report added.

The rivalry between Italy and France for influence in Libya has been ongoing, fuelled by Libya’s significance as a major oil provider and a crucial departure point for migrants bound for Europe.

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