French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to support Libya’s new interim government after meeting with the head of the interim presidential council.
France will reopen its embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli next Monday to show its support for the new unity government of the North African country, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday after meeting with the head of the interim presidential council.
The Libyan unity government headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah took office on March 16 from two rival administrations that ruled its eastern and western regions, completing a smooth transition of power after 10 years of violence and chaos.
“We will do everything in our power to defend this agenda of sovereignty and stability,” Macron said alongside Mohammed al-Menfi, the head of the Libyan presidency council in Paris.
“On Monday, our embassy in Tripoli will reopen and our ambassador will return to your territory,” he said.
Paris closed its embassy after evacuating around 50 French and British nationals after fighting erupted in Tripoli in July 2014. It based its ambassador in Tunis, the neighboring Tunisian capital.
Menfi was on his first overseas visit since taking office, which was established following a process negotiated by the UN.
Prime Minister Dbeibah and a three-member interim presidential council were selected during UN-sponsored talks in February.
The new transitional executive is the result of the UN peace process that was launched in November in Tunis, then voted in Geneva. It was ratified by the Libyan parliament on March 10.
Oil-rich Libya has been torn by war since a NATO-backed uprising led to the overthrow and murder of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the main supporter the military campaign led by NATO which resulted in the overthrow of Gaddafi.
“I want to show you here all my support and that of France for the new unified Libyan authorities resulting from the transition process,” Macron said.
“We owe a debt to Libya and the Libyans for a decade of disorder,” Macron said, adding that regional stability would be impossible without peace in Libya.
Macron sharply criticized Turkey’s military intervention in Libya, while rejecting claims that Paris had secretly favored the renegade military commander in eastern Libya, Khalifa Haftar, in the conflict. The eastern government supported Haftar.
The internationally recognized National Accord Government (GNA), which ruled western Libya, was supported by Turkey in its battle against Haftar’s forces.
The GNA finally defeated Haftar’s forces, backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, France and Russia, last April after a year of intense fighting.
Macron insisted that a priority was the withdrawal of Turkish troops and pro-Ankara Syrian militias, as well as Russian mercenaries who are said to be on the ground.
An estimated 20,000 mercenaries and foreign fighters are still based in the country, whose presence Dbeibah has called “a stab in the back”. Last week, the UN Security Council called on all foreign forces to leave “without further delay”.