Libyan prime minister calls for elections in 2019 to end war

Libyans rally in Tripoli in support of Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who began an armed campaign to ‘bring stability’ to the nation. (AFP)
Updated 17 June 2019

Libyan prime minister calls for elections in 2019 to end war

  • Al-Sarraj proposes a ‘Libyan forum’ aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the conflict
  • Sarraj said his proposed initiative would take place with support from the UN mission in Libya

CAIRO: The head of Libya’s UN-supported government on Sunday proposed holding nationwide elections to end the war in the North African country, as the forces of the rival military commander Khalifa Haftar continue their two-month-long battle to take the capital, Tripoli. Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj told a news conference in Tripoli, the seat of his administration, that he is proposing a “Libyan forum” aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the conflict. The talks would draw up a road map for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held before the end of 2019.
There are fears that the battle for Tripoli could ignite a civil war on the scale of the violence after the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Libya is divided between the weak government of Al-Sarraj in the west, and Field Marshal Haftar, whose self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) holds the east and much of the south. Haftar opened a military offensive on the capital in early April, advancing on the city’s southern outskirts and clashing with militias loosely affiliated with the UN-recognized government.
Haftar has presented himself as a strong hand who can restore stability. In recent years, his campaign against militants across Libya has won him growing international support from world leaders who say they are concerned the North African country has turned into a haven for armed groups, and a major conduit for migrants bound for Europe. His opponents view him as an aspiring autocrat and fear a return to one-man rule.
Al-Sarraj said all Libyans who “call for a peaceful and democratic solution” would take part in his proposed talks. He called on the UN to support the forum and to oversee elections.
He did not say whether Haftar or his representatives would be included. The two sides last held talks in the UAE in February.

HIGHLIGHT

Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar has presented himself as a strong hand who can restore stability. In recent years, his campaign against militants across Libya has won him growing international support from world leaders.

Al-Sarraj also demanded an international probe into alleged “war crimes and crimes against humanity,” since Haftar launched his offensive. The fighting for Tripoli has killed over 650 people, including combatants and civilians, according the World Health Organization.
A spokesman for Haftar did not immediately answer phone calls and messages seeking comment.
Haftar’s forces meanwhile pursued Daesh militants in the country’s south, killing more than a dozen militants over the past three days, officials said on Sunday.
The officials said that LNA forces began its attack on a militant hideout in the mountainous area of Haruj earlier this week. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Daesh acknowledged the ongoing LNA attack and claimed to have killed and wounded dozens of LNA troops.
The group was driven from Sirte in 2016 and from Derna, another stronghold, earlier this year. However, the extremists have found refuge in the vast deserts of central and southern Libya, where they continue to stage attacks.


Financial Action Task Force tightens screws on Tehran over terror financing

Updated 17 min 14 sec ago

Financial Action Task Force tightens screws on Tehran over terror financing

  • Watchdog says Iran failed to fulfill its promises to curb terror financing despite repeated warnings
  • Iran central bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati said the decision will not affect the country

PARIS: An international agency monitoring terrorism funding announced tough new financial scrutiny of Iran on Friday and added seven countries to a watch list.

Pakistan, meanwhile, won a reprieve from the Financial Action Task Force at its meetings in Paris this week. The monitoring body gave Pakistan’s government another four months to crack down on terrorism financing and did not put the country on a damaging “black list.”

Iran and North Korea are the only two countries currently on the agency’s black list. That means international financial transactions with those countries are closely scrutinized, making it costly and cumbersome to do business with them. International creditors can also place restrictions on lending to black-listed countries.

The FATF decided on Friday to further tighten the screws on Iran, imposing extra measures that could require audits or more transactions and make it even harder for foreign investors to do business there.

The group made the decision because Iran failed to fulfill its promises to the FATF despite repeated warnings. In a statement, the organization said that Iran hasn’t done enough to criminalize terrorist financing, require transparency in wire transfers or freeze terrorist assets targeted by UN sanctions.

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The head of Iran’s central bank, Abdolnasser Hemmati, said the decision will not affect the country.

“Such incidents will create no problem for Iran’s foreign trade and currency,” he said in a statement. Hemmati said the FATF decision was based on the “enmity” of the US and Israel toward Iran.

Pakistan, meanwhile, has been trying to get off the FATF gray list, the color code for countries that are only partially fulfilling international rules for fighting terrorism financing and money laundering.

Pakistan’s government has been working to shore up the country’s faltering economy and attract foreign investment and loans, making the FATF’s assessment especially important.

The FATF said that Pakistan had fulfilled 14 of 27 steps to get off the watch list, but still must do more to track money transfers and investigate and prosecute terrorism financiers.

The Pakistani government said in a statement that it “stands committed for taking all necessary action required” to fulfill the remaining steps. “A strategy in this regard has been formulated and is being implemented.”

The Financial Action Task Force also put seven new countries on its gray list because of gaps or failures in stemming the financing of terrorist groups or money laundering. The countries — Albania, Barbados, Jamaica, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nicaragua and Uganda — were ordered to take a series of legal and other steps to be removed from the list and avoid further financial punishment.