Enhanced efforts to stamp out fire of conflict in Libya and Sudan

Wednesday, 2019-04-24 12:32:50
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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (Photo: Reuters)
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NDO – As the Chairman of the African Union (AU), Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi hosted a troika summit in Cairo to discuss crises in Africa, including the upheavals in Libya and Sudan. The event is expected to come up with solutions to remove the conflict detonator and prevent the wide-spreading of tensions in the region.

The summit saw the attendance of leaders of the three countries holding the AU chairmanship, namely Rwanda (2018), Egypt (2019) and South Africa (2020), together with Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Moussa Faki Mahamat. In an effort towards the goal of “silencing the guns in Africa by 2020”, the group of African countries has recently submitted a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council warning about the risk of political and security uncertainties in Libya and Sudan. Without a regional solution offered for these two crises, external interventions could make the situation more chaotic and complicated.

The Libyan National Army (LNA), loyal to General Khalifa Haftar, is intensifying its attacks on Tripoli, which is now under the control of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). The conflict in Libya has forced the UN to postpone the conference on forming a roadmap for a general election in the North African country. Fighting has left more than 250 dead and 35,000 people displaced. Meanwhile, the efforts to seek a solution to end the conflict and bring Libya’s rival factions to the negotiating table are encountering numerous obstacles, steaming from external interventions. Recently, thousands of GNA supporters demonstrated at the central square in Tripoli to protest France’s support for Haftar’s military campaign. Protesters called on foreign countries to stop interfering in Libya’s internal affairs. However, France’s Foreign Ministry rejected the allegations, affirming its support for the legitimate government and the UN’s reconciliation efforts to find a comprehensive political solution for Libya.

The two European nations of France, which is said to support General Haftar’s forces, and Italy, which is said to support the GNA, have pledged coordination to terminate the conflict in Libya. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian admitted that it is difficult to do anything in Libya without a firm agreement between France and Italy. Through the phone, US President Donald Trump also talked with General Haftar on the anti-terrorism efforts, as well as the need to attain peace and stability in Libya. However, countries in the region have affirmed that a political solution must be decided by the Libyan people themselves.

Meanwhile, in Sudan, under the pressure of protest waves, the Transitional Military Council (TMC) is contacting all political forces in the country to appoint the prime minister and form a civilian government as soon as possible. Tensions escalated in Sudan after the dialogue between protesters and TMC collapsed. While many countries in the region supported Sudan’s military forces to temporarily seize power to stabilise the country, Western countries urged a rapid transfer of power to a civilian government. The US Department of State said Sudan is still included on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, emphasising that Washington’s policy with Khartoum will be based on US assessments of field developments and actions of the transitional government. The developments in Libya and Sudan have triggered concerns among regional countries about “spillover effects”. Recently, Protesters in Mali also pressured Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga’s government to resign.

With their important role in the region, countries participating in the summit in Egypt are expected to soon work out ways to “stamp out the fire of conflict” in Libya and Sudan, to avoid it from spreading widely. However, this promises to be a difficult and challenging task, as the intervention of outsiders into Africa’s crises is not a new story.