Eastern Libyan lawmakers not to join Geneva talks

Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj is seen during an interview with Reuters at his office in Tripoli, Libya June 16, 2019. Picture taken June 16, 2019. REUTERS/Ulf Laessing - RC1EF9A02470

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Lawmakers based in areas of eastern Libya controlled by military commander Khalifa Haftar said on Monday they would not participate for now in peace talks with politicians allied to the internationally recognised government.

The eastern politicians said the United Nations, which is brokering the talks in Geneva, had not approved all the members of their proposed delegation. 

The lawmakers’ refusal is the latest blow to U.N. efforts to end an almost year-long offensive by Haftar’s forces aimed at taking the capital Tripoli.

The United Nations had planned to bring together lawmakers from both sides of Libya’s conflict on Wednesday to end the fighting over Tripoli as part of a dialogue encompassing military, political and economic strands.

Libya’s internationally recognised government based in Tripoli meanwhile described Haftar as a “war criminal” and demanded that he withdraw his forces threatening the capital.

The government, which nearly walked out of the Geneva talks last week, blamed Haftar’s forces for shelling Tripoli’s port shortly after the negotiations got underway.

Senior military figures on both sides on Sunday agreed to submit a draft ceasefire agreement to their leaderships before meeting again next month, the U.N. Libya mission, UNSMIL, said in a statement.