Libya’s Haftar ruled out ceasefire in talks with France’s Macron — Elysee

Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar told French President Emmanuel Macron that conditions for a cease-fire were not in place. (File/AFP)
Updated 22 May 2019

Libya’s Haftar ruled out ceasefire in talks with France’s Macron — Elysee

  • Haftar ruled out a cease-fire and said he wanted to rid the capital of militias that had ‘infested’ his rival government
  • The Libyan commander said the conditions for halting hostilities ‘were not met’

PARIS: Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar told French President Emmanuel Macron that conditions for a cease-fire were not in place, although he would be ready to talk if those conditions were met, a French presidency official said.
Macron and French officials have for several weeks called for an unconditional cease-fire in the battle for Tripoli.
“The distrust we see between the Libyan actors is stronger than ever today,” said a French presidential official after the meeting between Macron and Haftar in Paris.
“When the question of the cease-fire was put on the table, Haftar’s reaction to this was to ask “negotiate with whom for a cease-fire today?” the official said.
He said Haftar considers his rival government in Tripoli “is completely infested by militias and it is not for him to negotiate with representatives of these militias.”
The official said Macron had asked Haftar to make a public step toward a cease-fire and Haftar responded by saying that an inclusive political dialogue was necessary and he would be ready for it if the conditions for a cease-fire were in place.
However, the official said Haftar had given no indication as to when he would be ready for any potential talks.
Haftar also said neither him nor his army were benefiting from oil sales in the east of the country, the official said.
Hafter explained the conditions for halting hostilities “were not met,” while acknowledging that a “political dialogue” is needed to end the standoff
Haftar did not make a statement after meeting with Macron for over an hour, a visit that follows Haftar’s surprise trip to Rome last week for talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
After the talks with Haftar, Macron’s office said the president reiterated France’s priorities in Libya: “Fight against terrorist groups, dismantle trafficking networks, especially those for illegal immigration, and permanently stabilize Libya.”
France and Italy are the two lead European powers seeking to find a solution to years of instability, spreading extremism and a migrant crisis in Libya which fell into chaos after the NATO-backed toppling of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
The UN envoy for Libya warned Tuesday the battle for Tripoli was “just the start of a long and bloody war” and called for immediate steps to cut off arms flows fueling the fighting.
The weeks of fighting have killed 510 people and wounded 2,467, according to the latest toll from the World Health Organization.
More than 75,000 people have fled their homes, according to the United Nations, while 100,000 are trapped by the conflict.

 


Adib presents government proposal to Aoun as Hezbollah pressure grows

A handout picture provided by the Lebanese photo agency Dalati and Nohra on September 17, 2020 shows Lebanon's President Michel Aoun (L) meeting with Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of Beirut. (AFP)
Updated 44 min 2 sec ago

Adib presents government proposal to Aoun as Hezbollah pressure grows

  • Economic experts said on Friday that the continuing debates about the formation of the government are a “waste of precious time,” which is a luxury Lebanon does not have

LEBANON: As Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib continues his efforts to form a new government, on Friday he presented to President Michel Aoun a proposal for “distributing the ministries to various sects before setting a final formula on who will be nominated to these ministries,” sources said. The two men will meet again on Saturday for further discussions.

Adib is facing sustained pressure from Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, who have raised their demands to insist that all ministerial positions are filled by Shiites, and not only the key role of minister of finance.

This has jeopardized his efforts to form a “government that satisfies everybody,” based on a French initiative that calls for the appointment of a small team of independent specialists representing all religious sects, who are not members of the main political parties.

Government sources said: “Adib, during his meeting with representatives of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement on Thursday evening, refused to accept from them a list of names of Shiites from which to choose a minister of finance.”

During his Friday sermon the following day, the Grand Jaafari Mufti Ahmad Qabalan said: “We insist on nominating our ministers and we refuse to accept that anyone else will do that for us, no matter who he is.”

Economic experts said on Friday that the continuing debates about the formation of the government are a “waste of precious time,” which is a luxury Lebanon does not have. They criticized the continued prioritization of political interests over the best interests of the country and warned that “it is a matter of life or death for the Lebanese people.”

They pointed out “thousands have lost their businesses and tens of thousands have lost their jobs, and 55 percent of the Lebanese people are living below the poverty line. There is a shortage of essential products, and the reserves of the Banque du Liban (the Lebanese Central Bank) have withered away.” Meanwhile there has been a brain drain of professionals and businessmen leaving the country, “which threatens to deprive Lebanon of one of its strongest and most important assets.”

Adib faced further obstacles from Hezbollah allies on Friday when Suleiman Frangieh, leader of the Marada Movement, announced that he does not agree that the Prime Minister-designate should choose who represents his party in the government without consulting with him.

Meanwhile, Talal Arslan, leader of the Lebanese Democratic Party, called on Adib to “show respect to parliamentary blocks.”

Others warned that the president cannot approve a list of ministers he does not know, and that giving a Shiite party the finance portfolio must not deny other sects the right to ministries that they claim.

“The French initiative is blocked due to the conflict between particular interests and regional and international calculations,” said Lebanese MP Bilal Abdallah. “The country cannot stand this any more and it might collapse if things continue the way they are.”

He added that he hopes Adib will continue his efforts to form a government and give the French initiative a chance.

Lebanese academic Dr. Hares Sleiman said: “The options of Hezbollah and Amal Movement are determined by their priorities: do they want to defend Iran’s quota … or do they want to have the livelihood of the Lebanese people as their priority, including their supporters and the Shiites of Lebanon?”

He added: “(Amal Movement leader and Speaker of the Parliament Nabih) Berri wants the Ministry of Finance at a time when there is a shortage of money, and the international community is demanding the dismissal of those who are corrupt and the implementation of reforms to save the Lebanese economy.

“So would Berri accept an independent government that satisfies the demands of protesters in the streets so that Lebanon would enjoy internal, Arab and international support? If he does that, he would be conspiring against Hezbollah and its allies in power. If he does not, then the caretaker government of Hassan Diab will stay, and the crisis and the sanctions will continue.”