US Ambassador ,Richard Norland, and Libya’s House of Representatives (HoR) head, Ageela Saleh, spoke last Thursday (1 May) and agreed on the ‘‘importance of respect for democratic processes and the need to avoid individual attempts to unilaterally dictate Libya’s political future using armed force’’, the US Embassy Tripoli reported.
The talks come on the back of Ageela Saleh’s new 8-point political initiative launched on 23 April to reform the current Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) as a way out of Libya’s current political impasse.
Hafter, meanwhile, had announced on the same day a unilateral revocation of the internationally recognized LPA – in what was widely described as a coup d’état – and seemed to appoint himself as sole ruler of eastern Libya. His announcement was roundly rejected by the UN and leading international powers – including the US.
On 29 April Hafter went on to announce a unilateral declaration of a humanitarian truce in the fighting over Tripoli. However, the next day, Libya’s internationally recognized government, based in Tripoli and led by Faiez Serraj, rejected Hafter’s truce. Having violated previous other announced truces, Tripoli called the offered truce another empty promise. It called for international guarantees and monitoring as a precondition for the truce. It also described Hafter as ”bloodthirsty and power obsessed”.
The latest moves by Hafter must be seen in light of Hafter’s forces being forced onto the backfoot in the fighting, having recently lost a string of north western coastal cities and towns, being pinned down at Wittya airbase and are on being the defensive on the Tarhuna front.
In its statement, the US Embassy reported that Norland and Saleh had ‘‘agreed that there is no military solution in Libya, on rejecting an approach of imposing facts on the ground, and on the importance of continuing UNSMIL-facilitated negotiations. Mr. Saleh congratulated Ambassador Norland on the confidence placed in him by the United States, and noted the importance of shared and constructive engagement between Libya and Washington.
Ambassador Norland and Mr. Saleh discussed the Berlin Conference and the need for all participants to live up to their commitments not to interfere militarily in Libya. Mr. Saleh noted in his initiative that the time has come to end infighting among Libyans. Ambassador Norland highlighted the importance of counter-terrorism and the risk that continued conflict will open space for terrorist elements to regroup across the country.
Regarding the LNA’s call for a Ramadan ceasefire, Ambassador Norland expressed the hope that building on that statement, the parties could take serious steps for the future of Libyans and return to negotiations under UN auspices for a lasting ceasefire in the 5+5 format, as agreed in Geneva on February 23. Ambassador Norland said the United States encourages all voices genuinely committed to peace and stability in Libya to take part in shaping the country’s political future, and congratulated Mr. Saleh on his involvement in this process and its continuation.