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Rapprochement between Libya’s Haftar, al-Sarraj in UAE | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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General Khalifa Haftar, commander in the Libyan National Army, leaves after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, November 29, 2016. (Reuters)

Cairo – Libya’s eastern military commander renegade general Khalifa Haftar and head of Libya’s UN-backed government Fayez al-Sarraj agreed to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in their country next year.

The agreement was made during a face-to-face meeting between the two officials in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Official sources said the two men agreed to hold the elections during a period not exceeding next March.

There was no official statement issued after the meeting, the second with Haftar since al-Sarraj was named prime minister-designate.

On Tuesday, the UAE Foreign Ministry announced achieving “concrete progress” by having the two rivals sit together.

In a statement, the ministry said a “positive atmosphere” prevailed during the meeting, which it described as an “important move.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, media sources predicted the creation of a new council for heading the state including Haftar, al-Sarraj and speaker of the Libyan parliament Akila Saleh, in addition to an agreement to unite the army forces and disband the militias.

Haftar’s office published a photo of the meeting and confirmed that the two men held talks in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday “thanks to international and Arab mediation.”

Libyan sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the meeting involved Haftar and al-Sarraj in the absence of any other members that accompanied the two men to Abu Dhabi.
Libya’s news agency LANA said that Haftar and al-Sarraj agreed to open permanent outreach channels, adding that two action teams would hold a meeting to discuss details of a government lineup and a military arrangement between the officers of Libya’s Arab Armed Forces.

However, the rapprochement between Haftar and al-Sarraj created division among Libyan officials concerning future arrangements.

In this regard, advisor of the General Army Commander Bal’eed Al-Sheikhi said that Haftar and al-Sarraj could work jointly in the UN-backed Presidential Council. However, Commander of the Libyan National Guard (LNG) in Tripoli Colonel Mahmoud Al-Zagal said: “We will not allow the presence of Haftar in the picture because he had defied the legitimacy.”