France to host crunch talks to unite divided Libya

France to host crunch talks to unite divided Libya
French President Francois Hollande will host Libya's Prime Minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj for talks on ending fighting in the North African state.
2 min read
28 September, 2016
Despite international backing Sarraj (left) has struggled to impose authority in Libya [Getty]

France is set to host a critical meeting on Libya next week, which will be attended by representatives from Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, Stephane Le Foll, a French government spokesman said.

The meeting aims to "see how we can advance the cause of achieving the necessary unity in Libya".

The announcement comes a day after Libyan Prime Minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj held talks in Paris with French President Francois Hollande.

A breakthrough on the war between the Tripoli and Tobruk governments was made following a meeting between Sarraj and renegade military leader Khalifa Haftar, who seized Libya's main oil ports earlier this month.

Haftar should have a position in a new, more inclusive government, France said.

Sarraj, speaking to AFP, said the decision to include Haftar was motivated by necessity as much as by choice.

"We have no other choice but dialogue and reconciliation," Sarraj said. "No one wants an escalation or a confrontation between Libyans."

Earlier this month forces loyal to Haftar took control of Libya's so-called "oil crescent" from government forces who have been fighting Islamic State group militants in Sirte.

Libya has Africa's largest oil reserves, estimated to total 48 billion barrels, but production and exports have nose-dived dramatically since the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

In May, Reuters reported that Libya's oil production was down to 212,000 barrels per day after the north African state's largest oil subsidiary was forced to slash output by one-third from its south-eastern fields.

Since the fall of Gaddafi internal political divisions in Libya have given rise to the existence of parallel and competing oil subsidiary companies. One is centred in the capital Tripoli and presided over by Sarraj's internationally-recognised government, and the other by rival government structures in the east of the country.

Oil production in Libya has fallen to less than a quarter of the 1.6 million barrels per day total it was producing before the 2011 uprising that lead to Gaddafi's fall.

Sarraj's Government of National Accord (GNA) was formed in March after a UN-backed deal last September.

However, although it is backed by the international community, it has struggled to impose power across tribal and territorial divides in Libya.