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Haftar Declines to Attend Congo Summit… Sudan Denies Closing its Borders with Libya | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Migrants in a detention center before being voluntarily returned to their countries of origin. Tripoli, 29 August. [Hani Amara/REUTERS]

Cairo – The Commander of the Libyan Army, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, was absent on Thursday from an African summit on the Libyan crisis held in the Congolese capital Brazzaville.

A media official at Haftar’s office said that the general had officially apologized for not participating in the summit, without giving further details.

The summit, which will be attended by Libyan Speaker Aguila Saleh, will kick-off on Saturday to discuss the Libyan crisis upon an invitation by the President of the Republic of the Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso, who chairs the African Union Commission on Libya.

The meeting aims to bring the views of the Libyan parties closer together, overcome the political stalemate and bolster reconciliation efforts in the country.

The African commission was established upon the recommendation of the African Peace and Security Council during the meeting of AU foreign ministers in New York in September 2014, with the aim of supporting the restoration of security in Libya.

The commission includes Mauritania, Niger, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa, as well as Libyan neighbor states.

On a different note, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour denied reports that his country has closed its borders with its neighbors, stressing that Khartoum was beefing border security to control smuggling.

The minister made the remarks after reports said earlier that Sudan has closed its borders with bordering states.

The minister denied the reports, asserting the new measures would control movement of arms, drugs and criminals through borders.

Security cooperation agreements are binding Sudan to its neighbors, the minister said, adding that Sudan and Chad had formed joint border forces to coordinate border guard missions.

The Sudanese Vice-President Hasbo Abdul Rahman, had earlier announced that 60 thousand four-wheel drive vehicles entered Sudan in the past period, smuggled from Libya, Chad and southern Sudan.

Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Thursday that the European Union aid to Libya to stop migrants entering Europe was fuelling a Libyan detention network that is based on kidnapping, torture and extortion.

Joanne Liu, the president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), published an open letter describing “the horrific situation” for refugees and migrants in Libyan detention centers she visited last week.

Libya’s detention of migrants “must be named for what it is: a thriving enterprise of kidnapping, torture and extortion”, Liu wrote in the letter addressing European governments.