Speaker of the east-based Libyan parliament Aguila Saleh revealed after talks with the American Ambassador efforts to transform Sirte city into the headquarters of a new authority in the North African country.
Saleh had met with Ambassador Richard Norland in Cairo for talks on the Libyan crisis.
He said that Sirte can be transformed from a hotspot for tensions between the rival Libyan National Army (LNA), headed by Khalifa Haftar, and Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, into a new administrative city that can run the country.
He said an agreement was needed by local, regional and international powers to ensure the success of the proposal.
Asharq Al-Awsat was the first to report about such a proposal, which also calls for eliminating Turkey’s military presence and the pullout of its mercenaries and pro-GNA militias. Saleh’s initiative stemmed from the Cairo Declaration that was unveiled by Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in June.
In a statement after the meeting, Saleh stressed that the solution to Libya’s crisis “must exclude the Turkish presence.” Sirte must be secured by Libyan agencies until parliamentary elections are held. The LNA will carry out its duties outside the city.
Moreover, he said that the GNA was not part of any dialogue because his parliament does not recognize it. A new authority should instead by formed, one that enjoys legitimacy and can reach a new political solution away from Turkish meddling, he suggested.
At this, he urged Sarraj to step down from his position and clear the way for fresh new faces that can steer Libya towards stability.
“Turkey knows it is waging a losing battle. It cannot enter Sirte and the US will inform Ankara of the futility of the war in Libya,” Saleh stressed.
On oil revenues, he said they will not go to militias and mercenaries in the form of salaries. The revenues will be “frozen” and they will not be transferred to the central bank until a new authority is formed.
The speaker also denied disputes between him and Haftar. Saleh has emerged as a key international figure, at the expense of the LNA commander, as he attempts to reach a solution to the crisis.
“Our aim is to cleanse Libya from mercenaries and militias. We do not abandon the LNA in such important missions. We need its support to preserve Libya’s sovereignty,” he stated.
The US embassy in Libya, meanwhile, said in a statement: “With our Egyptian partners, Ambassador Norland welcomed the momentum generated by the June 6 Cairo Declaration and underscored US support for all responsible Libyan leaders seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict that restores Libya’s sovereignty, promotes economic reforms and prevents further foreign escalation.”
It said talks between the ambassador and Saleh focused on the parliament’s “efforts to promote a demilitarized solution for Sirte and al-Jufra, enable the National Oil Corporation to resume its vital work while ensuring that oil and gas revenues are managed transparently, and improve governance leading to credible and peaceful elections.”
“Norland expressed support for the speaker’s aspirations and those of all responsible Libyan elements, for a Libyan solution to end the conflict and ensure a stable and prosperous future for the Libyan people,” read the statement.