Egypt’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday hosted talks with the foreign ministers of Algeria and Tunisia, Libya’s neighbors to the west, days after Libya’s rival governments agreed to hold elections.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Algeria’s Abdelkader Messahel and Tunisia’s Khemais Jhinaoui said at a news conference in Cairo that their countries support holding elections.
“We need a unified, independent and stable Libya,” said Messahel. “A stable Libya would guarantee the security of Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt.” The Libyan election agreement was forged last Wednesday between the head of the U.N.-recognized government in the west, Fayez al-Sarraj, and Khalifa Hifter, the commander of forces based in the county’s east.
Hifter’s forces recently took control of the southern border with Algeria, part of a campaign announced in January to “eliminate gangs, Islamic State terrorists and criminals” in the south.
Tunisia’s Jhinaoui called for armed groups in Libya to be disbanded: “We cannot talk about a political roadmap in the presence of militias. The militias are one of the main obstacles to any political stability,” he said. Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 uprising, which toppled long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
Since 2016, Egypt has been hosting a series of negotiations between rival Libyan factions and has backed the self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Hifter, in his conflict with the Tripoli government and associated militias.