Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar has offered his backing for a peace process that seeks to end a decade of chaos, after meeting the head of a new transitional presidential council.
He met with Mohammed Younes Menfi, a former diplomat who also comes from eastern Libya, and who was selected last week in a UN-backed process to head the three-member presidency council.
Haftar offered “the support of the armed forces for the peace process, to defend democracy and the peaceful transfer of power,” a statement from his office read.
The meeting took place as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said Turkish troops stationed in Libya will remain there as long as a bilateral military agreement between Ankara and Tripoli is active.
Libya has in recent years been split between a Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, and an eastern-based administration, backed by Haftar.
Erdogan said on Tuesday that Turkey would discuss withdrawing its troops, who Ankara says are providing military training to GNA if other foreign powers are withdrawn first.
Menfi landed at Benina airport in the eastern Libyan port city Benghazi from Greece on Thursday and went straight to meet Haftar at his headquarters at Rajma, some 25 km outside town.
A new interim executive was chosen on Feb. 5 by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum in Switzerland, comprising 75 participants selected by the UN to represent a broad cross-section of society.
Haftar reiterated a recent pledge of support for the leaders of this new executive authority, who were chosen “so that they can reunite the institutions and lead the country to elections,” Thursday’s statement read.
Haftar’s spokesman Ahmad Al-Mesmari had on Saturday congratulated Menfi and Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who was selected as interim prime minister, alongside “the Libyan people,” on the outcome of the selection process.
The interim authority is mandated to lead Libya through to elections scheduled for December.