Following a day of talks mediated by Turkey and Russia, the head of the Libyan National Army left without agreeing to the final terms
Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army left Moscow on Monday night without signing a ceasefire agreement drafted at talks in Russia, the TASS news agency cited the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying.
Fayez Al Sarraj, the prime minister of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, had signed the deal after a day of negotiations in Moscow brokered by Russia and Turkey, which seized the initiative from the West in attempting to end nine months of fighting around the Libyan capital.
Field Marshal Haftar asked for a delay until Tuesday to consider signing, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference on Monday. Hours later, however, he and his entourage left Moscow without inking the deal.
It is still unclear what happens now and if Field Marshal Haftar’s departure again puts a diplomatic solution out of reach.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it continues to work with all sides to reach a settlement.
But early on Tuesday, the LNA said they were “ready and determined” to achieve victory, the forces’ official Facebook website said.
Turkey and Russia, which back rival forces, had pushed the fighting parties to accept the ceasefire. The truce began shakily over the weekend and now threatens to fall apart entirely.
“There will be no signing on any document at the expense of the heroic sacrifices and aspirations of the Libyans to salvation,” the LNA said on Twitter early Tuesday, confirming the departure of Field Marshal Haftar.
There was no further detail on what the LNA side’s objections were.
“We have worked with our Russian partners all day long for the factions in Libya to sign a ceasefire letter and we drafted a text,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said alongside Mr Lavrov on Monday.
“We have taken into account suggestions, especially from the Haftar side, to reach a mutual understanding.”
Field Marshal Haftar’s departure casts doubt over hopes for an end to the battle over Tripoli.
An agreement would have spared Libya further fighting after years of upheaval that has left thousands dead and allowed Islamist extremists to dig in.
It would also have removed a key uncertainty for the oil market. Crude production in Libya, home to Africa’s largest proven reserves, has fluctuated as the warring sides fought over some of the country’s largest fields.
Libya has been enduring its worst violence since the 2011 NATO-backed ouster of Muammar Qaddafi, which ushered in years of instability that divided the country between rival administrations and turned it into a hub for migrants destined for Europe.
Field Marshal Haftar launched the offensive to capture Tripoli in April, vowing to end the rule of militias that back the Tripoli administration and include some hardline factions deemed terrorist groups by the international community.
More than 2,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands displaced since fighting began while the United Nations has been trying to lay the ground for a political conference to unite the country.
Germany has been preparing to host a summit on Sunday in Berlin led by the UN to coincide with a one day visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Libya’s warring parties would need to play a major role if a solution was to be found.
Turkey is seen as crucial to getting a political settlement as it recently stepped up its support for Mr Al Sarraj’s administration by voting to deploy troops to the conflict.
Ankara has sent a small number of soldiers to Tripoli to bolster the pro-GNA militias and reports indicate that Turkish backed militiamen in Syria have also been asked to go to Libya to fight.