Turkey, Russia nearing deal on Libya ceasefire, political process

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Earlier on Wednesday night, Libya’s internationally recognised Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj announced his intention to step down by the end of October in a speech delivered on state television.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan shake hands during a news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia March 5, 2020.  (photo credit: PAVEL GOLOVKIN/POOL VIA REUTERS)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan shake hands during a news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia March 5, 2020.

(photo credit: PAVEL GOLOVKIN/POOL VIA REUTERS)

ANKARA  – Turkey and Russia have moved closer to an agreement on a ceasefire and political process in Libya during their latest meetings in Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk late on Wednesday.

Ankara and Moscow are the main power brokers in Libya’s war, backing opposing sides. Russia supports the eastern-based forces of Khalifa Haftar, while Turkey backs Libya’s internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA). The GNA and the leader of a rival parliament to the east called for a ceasefire last month, but Haftar dismissed the move.

Earlier on Wednesday night, Libya’s internationally recognised Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj announced his intention to step down by the end of October in a speech delivered on state television.

“I declare my sincere desire to hand over my duties to the next executive authority no later than the end of October,” he said.

“Hopefully, the dialogue committee will complete its work and choose a new presidential council and prime minister,” he added.

Sarraj is head of the Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, while eastern Libya and much of the south is controlled by a rival administration.

He has headed the GNA since it was formed in 2015 as a result of a UN-backed political agreement aimed at uniting and stabilising Libya after the chaos that followed the 2011 uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

His resignation could add to political uncertainty in Tripoli or even infighting among the rival factions in the coalition that dominates western Libya.

However, it also comes in the context of a renewed push towards a political solution after the GNA in June ended the rival Libyan National Army’s 14-month assault on Tripoli and forced it to retreat from the capital.

The war has drawn in regional and international powers with the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia backing the LNA and Turkey supporting the GNA.

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