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Libyan Rivals Agree to Cease-Fire, Elections

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Two rival Libyan leaders committed themselves Tuesday to a cease-fire, working toward presidential and parliamentary elections and finding a road map to secure lawless Libya against terrorism.

French President Emmanuel Macron, Fayez al-Sarraj and Gen. Khalifa Haftar

The meetings at a chateau in La Celle Saint-Cloud, west of Paris, brought together Fayez al-Sarraj, prime minister of the UN-backed unity government, and Gen. Khalifa Haftar, the Egyptian-backed commander of Libya's self-styled national army.

Macron met separately with each ahead of an encounter between the two Libyans in the presence of UN's newly appointed special envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame.
"There is political legitimacy in the hands of Mr. Sarraj. There is military legitimacy in the hands of Mr. Haftar. They have decided to work together," Macron said after the series of encounters.

The 10-point joint declaration released by the French presidency that capped the talks was the first of its kind between the rivals. Among the points agreed upon was a commitment to a cease-fire with armed force reserved "strictly" for use in counterterrorism operations.

The rivals also "solemnly commit to work toward the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections as soon as possible."

The French president said later that the goal is for balloting in the spring. Sarraj had said in May that elections would be held in spring.

The date may seem premature in a country that has spiraled into chaos since the 2011 toppling and killing of leader Moammar Gadhafi.

But French diplomats had said before the meeting that they would support such an initiative.

"The stakes of this reconciliation are enormous. Enormous for the Libyan people, who have been suffering, living with instability and terrorist threats these past years, and it is considerable for the whole region," Macron said after the talks. "If Libya fails," he said, "the whole region fails with it."

The stakes are high for Europe, too, as hundreds of thousands of migrants using Libya as a springboard reach its shores, mainly in Italy, and as extremist militants sheltering and multiplying in Libya cross to other North African states.

The encounter was never expected to resolve the knotty problems of Libya, but the joint declaration is to serve as a basis for further work by the UN envoy. Macron, elected in May, was at ease in his role as peacemaker. He has made known that working toward laying the groundwork for a Libya with a functioning government and institutions is a priority of his presidency.

Appearing at a news conference, the three men shook hands and the two Libyan rivals bear-hugged Macron before exchanging timid kisses on the cheek. Neither Sarraj nor Haftar spoke to the press. France, minding its diplomatic manners, has made clear that Macron's initiative is part of a larger process guided by the UN and does not negate work by the European Union, the African Union and individual countries.

The first point states that the solution to the Libyan crisis "can only be political" with a national reconciliation process that includes "all Libyans."

The two leaders called for disarmament and demobilization of fighters who don't want to integrate into the regular armed forces so they can be reintegrated into civilian life.

libya | african union | united nations

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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