In Africa, Turkey / Türkiye, West Asia

Speaker of the Libyan parliament Aguila Saleh. (Reuters)

The Speaker of the Libyan parliament Aguila Saleh has slammed the agreement signed between Turkey and the Government of National Accord (GNA).

By Sawsan Abou Hussein

, Dec 15, 2019

Libya Parliament Speaker to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Back Political Solution, but After Tripoli Liberation

Speaker of the Libyan parliament Aguila Saleh slammed the agreement signed between Turkey and the Government of National Accord (GNA).

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from Cairo after a visit to Greece, he revealed that his Greek counterpart expressed to him Athens’ rejection of the accord. Cyprus has also expressed similar angry objections, noting that Libya and Turkey do not share a marine border.

The Libyan parliament has not ratified the deal, continued Saleh.

“Turkey has taken advantage of the situation in our country and attempted to seize our state resources,” he charged. “The international community understands our position.”

“There are no legal grounds for the deal and the economic zone that extends 200 miles off the Libyan coast has been mapped out by the United Nations,” he added.

Ankara and the GNA signed last month a memorandum of understanding on military and security cooperation and another on the restriction of maritime jurisdiction, drawing criticism from the Libyan National Army, Cyprus, Greece, Egypt and Europe.

Asked about the upcoming international conference on Libya set for Berlin, Saleh said: “The meeting is aimed at unifying the European stance on the Libyan crisis, not imposing solutions on the people from abroad.”

He confirmed that he had received an invitation to visit Washington, predicting that it will likely take place in January.

“This reveals its recognition of the legitimacy of the parliament,” said Saleh, adding that he will discuss with American officials means to restore the authority of the state and build its institutions.

On the Presidential Council, which is headed by GNA chief Fayez al-Sarraj, Saleh said the body is illegal because it was never approved by the parliament.

The Council was overthrown by the militias that do not recognize it, he added.

Asked if he believes that Ankara may dispatch troops to Libya to back Sarraj, Saleh replied that it would be difficult for Turkish troops to arrive to the West, whether by sea or air. He explained that Greece has blocked Turkey’s way forward by sea and the LNA controls strategic positions in the capital, Tripoli.

On coordination with Cairo, he said that Egypt and its president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi have repeatedly expressed their support for the parliament and LNA. This support is ongoing through Sisi’s contacts with world leaders.

“We are also in constant contact because any threat to Libya will affect Egypt and all neighboring countries,” he remarked.

Moreover, Saleh said that the first step towards reaching a political solution in Libya lies in liberating Tripoli from the clutches of militias and foreign mercenaries. This will then be followed by dialogue.

He revealed that the parliament had formed a committee to hold Libyan dialogue that will draft the political solution “because the people will not accept foreign solutions.”

A new government will be formed after the dialogue, followed by the drafting of a new constitution ahead of staging of parliamentary and presidential elections, he went on to say.

“The entire Libyan people stand by us and reject the illegal policies that have been adopted by the Presidential Council,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“We back the political path and reconciliation, but only after Tripoli’s liberation,” he stressed.


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