Head of Libya’s unity govt meets army chief

Tripoli / AFP

The designated head of Libya’s UN-backed unity government has met the country’s controversial army chief, retired General Khalifa Haftar, as he prepares to submit a new cabinet lineup.
Fayez Al Sarraj’s official Facebook page said he met Haftar on Saturday as part of a series of meetings to assess “the opinions, fears and worries of influential sides in the crisis” in the oil-rich country.
The meeting was held in Al-Marj, eastern Libya, with several members of the Sarraj government also taking part, it said.
Sarraj and Haftar discussed “finding a practical solution to the war in Benghazi”, Libya’s second city where Haftar’s army has been fighting extremists, according to the Facebook page of his
It said Sarraj was seeking a “realistic” solution based on “realities on the ground” to reach a political consensus between all parties.
Since August 2014, Libya has had two rival administrations, with the internationally recognised authorities based in the country’s far east and a militia-backed authority in Tripoli.
World powers have urged Libya’s warring factions to endorse the unity government set up under a UN-brokered peace deal signed in December.
Sarraj is expected to propose a new government lineup, after the recognised parliament rejected an initial 32-member list last week.
Deputies also voted for the removal of an article from the December peace deal that gives the Sarraj government the power to approve top security and military posts, fearing it will lead to Haftar’s ouster as demanded by the Tripoli-based administration.
The general returned to Libya after more than 20 years in exile in the United States to join the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi. He has since vowed to crush Islamists.

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