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Libyan PM calls for int’l protection for civilians

Al-Sarraj says if warlord Haftar continues his offensive, international troops should protect civilians

Ayhan Şimşek   | 19.01.2020
Libyan PM calls for int’l protection for civilians Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya Fayez Al-Sarraj

BERLIN 

Libya’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj on Sunday called on international troops to protect civilians in government-controlled areas if Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar continues his military offensive.

In an interview with German weekly Welt am Sonntag ahead of the Berlin conference on Libyan peace, al-Sarraj urged the international community to assume more responsibility to end the violence.

“If Khalifa Haftar would not stop his offensive, the international community should take a more active stance, also by sending international troops to protect the Libyan civilian population,” he said.

Al-Sarraj underlined that such an international protection force should be deployed under the United Nations umbrella.

“Then experts must discuss who should take part in this force, such as the EU or the African Union or the Arab League,” he added.

Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tripoli had been under attack by the warlord Khalifa Haftar since April last year, and fighting over the last nine months killed more than 1,000 people.

On Jan. 12, the warring sides of the Libyan conflict announced a cease-fire in response to a joint call by Turkish and Russian leaders.

But talks for a permanent cease-fire deal ended without an agreement on Monday after Haftar left Moscow without signing the deal.

In the wake of Moscow talks, Germany invited world powers and regional actors to a peace conference in Berlin on Sunday in a bid to thrash out a lasting cease-fire deal and pave the way for a political solution in Libya.

The conference will be held amid a fragile cease-fire between Libya’s internationally recognized government and forces loyal to Haftar. 

Leaders, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will attend the conference, which will be co-hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The German government announced that both Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and the eastern-based commander Haftar also accepted invitations for the conference.

Top officials from Egypt and UAE, main supporters of the Libyan warlord Haftar, are also expected to take part in the conference.

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