(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
On Sunday, Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj called for a national reconciliation effort to resolve Libya’s divisions.
In an interview with Reuters at the UN headquarters in New York, Sarraj stated that the battle to liberate Sirte from ISIS is in its final stages despite setbacks caused by booby traps and sniper fire.
The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which is led by Sarraj, has struggled to establish authority over the country since it arrived in the Libyan capital in March. Libya has been suffering from instability and chaos since the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011.
“In the last five years, Libya has been through a very difficult and critical phase … many political divisions,” said Sarraj while in New York. “There was disintegration of the social fabric as a result of bloody conflicts.
“So we need a real reconciliation between Libyans inside and Libyans abroad … there will be no exclusion of any political faction,” he said. “Reconciliation will provide political stability, which will give way for economic stability.”
Sarraj hopes to move forward with this initiative before the end of the year, however, his government is facing a multitude of challenges.
General Khalifa Haftar has been actively preventing the Libyan government from achieving national unity by continuing to wage war against his opponents in eastern Libya. Haftar supports Libya’s eastern parliament which gave the GNA a vote of no confidence last month.
In addition, Haftar has refused to work with the GNA and integrate his forces into a Libyan national army.
Moreover, the Libyan government has been facing criticism in its failure to solve problems that are affecting the everyday lives of its people, such as a troubled economy, constant power cuts, water shortages, kidnappings and a deteriorating healthcare system.
“We expect within coming weeks to end negotiations on shaping a new government,” said the prime minister.
“We have, until now, not received any official letter from the parliament to present again a newly reshaped government. Despite that we dealt positively with the results of the parliament … (it) has to now bear its responsibility and carry out its duty,” he said.
Sarraj re-emphasized that he is willing to meet with Haftar to discuss Libya’s national unity.
“As a Presidential Council we are open to all political factions … I have no reservations. Anything that helps solve the Libyan crisis and that can open bottlenecks, we are ready to meet anyone,” he said.
In response to Haftar’s forceful takeover of Libya’s oil ports, Sarraj said, “we would not have hoped that there would be escalation in the area but what happened has happened … and we tried to deal with it with wisdom and calculation.”
Sarraj also highlighted that the Presidential Council was responsible for the protection of Libya’s oil installations.
“But we sent a clear message that oil installations must be protected and should not be damaged … Whoever protects the oil must be under the umbrella of the Presidential Council,” he said.
Haftar’s forces have given the National Oil Corporation (NOC) operational control of the oil ports, which Sarraj stated functioned under the authority of the Presidential Council.