The leaders of two major factions in Libya’s civil war have reportedly agreed to hold elections after meeting in the UAE.
In separate statements, President Fayez al-Sarraj and General Khalifa Haftar, the leaders of Libya’s two main warring factions, said they wanted to work together. It was their first meeting since January 2016, and reports said they agreed on elections in March 2018.
“The National Salvation Government have been following carefully the meeting that happened in UAE, and we would like to reiterate that the National Salvation Government is indicting such actions that don’t promote the complete inclusion of all Libyan partners.
“We do confirm our firm commitment to the Libyan people that we are keen on constructive national dialogue, and the support of the national salvation government to truthful and transparent efforts which is lead by nationalists, which will lead to an all inclusive Libyan reconciliation,” said Khalifa Al Ghweil, the Prime Minister of the National Salvation Government in a statement.
The elections would be a sign of stability in the country that has been racked by violence since the overthrow of long-time autocratic dictator Moammar al-Qaddafi in 2011 after more than four decades.
The economy is barely functioning with severe cash shortages. Depositors are only allowed to withdraw small amounts of money once a week.
Libya’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Sadiq Al-Gharyani has urged Libyan people to stage mass demonstrations to demand their rights as the country’s economic crisis worsens with no government solution in sight.
“The people in general are complaining and feel imminent danger because of conspiracies and plots by the international community and some of our people,” he said in his weekly program on Tanasuh TV on Wednesday.
Libya has been racked by violence and fighting between alternate governments since long-time dictator Moammar Qaddafi was forced to leave after a 42-year reign in 2011. But one area, the port city of Misruta has become an oasis of stability and Libyans hope a model for what their country could become.
“Misruta is great modern city, it is probably better than Tripoli the capital of Libya in some ways,” Abdelsalam Al Ajtal, a local businessman and infrastructure contractor told The Media Line, mentioning Misruta’s long coastline and well-known beaches.
Misruta is a commercial port city with more than half a million residents, including Turkmans, Egyptians, Arabs, Amazigh-Berbers, Italians, and others who have migrated from other cities in Libya. Misrutans have a reputation of being friendly.
“We have a lot of factions, and people with different ideologies, but I talk to all of them, and I do business with all of them, Mohamed Nahla, a former sales representative at an American oil service company, RedWings told The Media Line.
In contrast to other cities in Libya like Tripoli and Benghazi, Misruta is also known as a safe city.
“We go out during the spring time to the gardens, and take our families on picnics where we sit, drink tea, and enjoy a decent conversation.” Mohamed Mahmoud a Marketing Specialist at Jahed NGO, an organization handling civil affairs in the city told The Media Line.
Misratans have an organized work force, banking system, and strong independent social and civil societies.
“We don’t really depend on the politicized central bank of Libya, who isn’t sending us money to live our daily life; the banks aren’t functioning, and it has no money, but we created our own network of donors from businessmen, and support from independent underground NGOs, our only concern is stability of our country”. Khalifa Alghweil, the Prime Minister of the National Salvation Government told The Media Line.
“I wish we can burn all the oil, so the Libyans in other cities can focus on other opportunities, and start working.”
Libya has several political factions that led to the creation of a once united coalition of three governments, the Coalition of National Accord, the Transitional Government, and the National Salvation Government. Each group has its own presidential guard and police force.
“There is underground youth support for the National Salvation Government and its Prime Minister Engineer and former businessman Khalif Alghweil.
“We know his rivals in Tripoli tried to assassinate him, but he needs to stand strong, and come up with a national project(s) plan. Hire professionals to draw a comprehensive plan, then for the sake of God, stick to it.” Tameem Abugharsa, a young doctor in Misrata told The Media Line. “We are with him, he is the only man that isn’t tainted and not-corrupt. We hope he work on reconciliation, security and stability.”
There is a call among a large sector of young Libyans for unity and avoiding more bloodshed by refusing to belong to any political parties’
“We were deceived right after the death of the Moammar Qadhaffi, by several political groups who were only interested in gaining power and control over the main institutions in the country to benefit themselves, or their groups,” Ali a young man working in the oil industry who asked not to use his last name, told The Media Line.
“We believed the Muslim Brothers Leaders because we thought that coming from a religious background they will not be corrupt. We also believed that the educated liberals who spent most of their life in the West will bring stability but we were wrong.”
Sherif Elhelwa – a political analyst