Germany asks Libya’s Sarraj to delay resignation to ensure ‘continuity’

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Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday urged the head of Libya’s UN-recognized government to delay his resignation to ensure “continuity” in the political talks that have started following a ceasefire deal.

Fayez al-Sarraj, who heads the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), plans to step down on October 31 as part of the landmark deal to end years of conflict with a rival administration dominated by military commander Khalifa Haftar.

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In a statement released after a phone call with Sarraj, Maas welcomed last week’s signing of the permanent ceasefire and the launch of a political dialogue as “a real chance” for peace in the north African country.

“In light of the start of the political talks, however, we would like to see Mr al-Sarraj postpone his resignation and remain in office for the duration of the dialogue forum,” Maas said, adding that Chancellor Angela Merkel backed his plea.

“From our point of view, this would be important in order to guarantee institutional and executive continuity” in the “crucial weeks” ahead, he added.

The two warring sides have already launched talks via videoconference but are due to hold in-person negotiations on November 9 in Tunisia, with the goal of holding national elections.

The GNA in a statement said Sarraj has received several requests to stay in his post longer to avoid a “political vacuum,” including from “leaders in friendly countries,” UN officials and civil society groups.

Sarraj however insists that “the exit of the current political actors will help to find a way out” of Libya’s crisis, it added.

Libya descended into revolution and a complex civil war after the overthrow and killing of strongman Moamer Gaddafi in 2011, eventually being split between two main factions -- the GNA in Tripoli and Haftar’s forces in the east.

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