Egypt announces new Libya plan after collapse of Haftar offensive

Fighters loyal to Libya's internationally recognised government celebrate after regaining control over the city, in Tripoli, Libya

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced a new initiative for Libya on Saturday, flanked by the war-torn nation’s eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, proposing an elected leadership council and a ceasefire starting on June 8.

Sisi, who was also accompanied in Cairo by eastern Libyan parliament head Aguila Saleh, said the plan included a call for negotiations in Geneva and for the exit of all foreign fighters from Libya.

Libya has had no stable central authority since dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown by NATO-backed rebels in 2011. For more than five years it has had rival parliaments and governments in the east and the west, with streets often controlled by armed groups.

Sisi’s announcement comes after the abrupt collapse of a 14-month offensive by Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) to try to take control of the capital, Tripoli.

The retreat, reversing many of Haftar’s gains from last year when he raced towards Tripoli, extends the control of the rival Government of National Accord (GNA) across most of northwest Libya. Haftar and allied groups still control the east and much of the south, as well as most of Libya’s oilfields, however.

Egypt along with the United Arab Emirates and Russia have provided support for Haftar, but that backing has been outweighed in recent months by Turkish military backing for the GNA.

Haftar is a deeply divisive figure whose offensive upended a U.N.-led peace process, and it is unclear how much traction any initiative proposed by him or his allies could gain.

Multiple previous attempts to establish truces and a return to negotiations have foundered, though the United Nations has started holding separate talks with both sides for a ceasefire deal in recent days.

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