CAIRO | France’s FM visits Libya to boost reconciliation deal

CAIRO  — France’s foreign minister visited Libya on Monday to encourage holding elections in the north African country later this year as part of a reconciliation agreement reached by the country’s main political rivals in Paris in May.

Jean-Yves Le Drian met with Fayez Serraj, the prime minister of the U.N.-backed government in the capital, Tripoli.

In a press conference with Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala, Le Drian said he will meet with Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, the commander of Libya’s self-styled national army, and the speaker of the country’s internationally-recognized parliament, Agila Saleh.

He said France will provide $100 million in financial support through the U.N. to hold parliamentary and presidential elections on December 10.

In May 2018, Serraj and Hifter agreed on a roadmap aiming to restore order in Libya, where lawlessness has fueled Islamic militancy, human trafficking and instability in the wider region.

Moving toward parliamentary and presidential elections by the end of 2018 was a key goal of the meeting hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The plan however faces obstacles in the north African country, where rival authorities rely on an array of unruly militias.

Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed ruler Moammar Gadhafi. France was at the forefront of the NATO airstrikes, carried out along with the United States and others.

Elections were held shortly after Gadhafi’s demise, but failed to bring stability. In the years since, Libya has emerged as a major conduit for African migrants hoping to reach Europe. Libya is split between rival governments in the east and west, each one is backed by militias, tribes and political factions.

By Associated Press