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Libyan leader, AU envoy meet on December vote run-up

Published: Updated:

Libyan leader Mohamed al-Menfi met Tuesday with Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso, the African Union’s pointman on the conflict-ridden North African country, to discuss plans for elections there in December.

Libya’s new transitional executive emerged from a UN process that was launched in November in Tunis, then voted on in Geneva and confirmed by Libya’s parliament on March 10.

Elections are tentatively set for December 24, but many pre-conditions remain to be met, al-Menfi and Sassou Nguesso said in a joint statement.

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Ahead of the vote, “urgent challenges (include) the consolidation of the ceasefire, respect of the arms embargo, the unification of the country’s military and financial institutions (and) the withdrawal of foreign combattants and mercenaries,” the statement said.

“After all that, we will go straight to elections for stability in Libya,” al-Menfi, chairman of Libya’s Presidential Council, told reporters.

The UN estimates there are more than 20,000 mercenaries, including Russians, Syrians, Chadians and Sudanese, as well as foreign troops, most of them Turkish, deployed in Libya.

“It is desirable that President Denis Sassou Nguesso talk directly with the Russian and Turkish presidents to obtain the departure of the mercenaries,” a Congolese diplomat told AFP, requesting anonymity.

Sassou Nguesso heads the African Union’s High-Level Committee and Contact Group on Libya.

The oil-rich country plunged into chaos after longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed in the 2011 NATO-backed uprising, and over the years the conflict has attracted numerous foreign players.

In recent years Libya has been split between two rival administrations backed by foreign forces and countless militias.

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