The UN-led meeting between Libya leaders Khalifa Haftar and Fayez al-Sarraj has been met with a positive response from the public and international actors.
The meeting between Libyan strongmen Khalifa Haftar, the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), and Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, took place in the United Arab Emirates city of Abu Dhabi towards the end of February at the invitation of the UN Special Envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame.
The two leaders had already met three times before, twice in Paris and once in Palermo. This fourth meeting was meant to provide impetus for the national elections, which were supposed to have taken place in December of last year but were postponed due to increased political and military instability across Libya. The aim is to “put an end to the transition period”, which has been going on since the deposition of Muammar Ghaddafi in 2011.
Sarraj stressed during the meeting that the solution to the Libyan political crisis does not lie in a military solution, but a political one. This statement comes in a context where Haftar’s LNA has been advancing in the south of Libya, having taken large parts of Sabha and the oil fields that exist in southern Libya. The international community has nevertheless stated that oil will only be sold legally from Tripoli, where Sarraj’s Government of National Accord is based. These lands were taken away from irregular military and tribal units in the south.
Human rights organizations in Libya also issued a statement about the Abu Dhabi agreement. The National Human Rights Committee welcomed the meeting, describing it as a positive step and a turning point in the path of achieving peace and national consensus. The committee said the move would contribute to ending the Libyan crisis and the state of division and political conflict that have affected the humanitarian, living, and security situation of citizens.