The Palermo meeting aimed at stabilizing Libya included eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar, as well as his rival, Prime Minister Fayez Seraj, head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord. Also in attendance were the presidents of neighboring Egypt and Tunisia, and a Russian delegation headed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Despite Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte describing the two-day conference as a "success" no formal commitments were made to the UN-led peace plan.
Nizar Mufti contends that the country remains too divided and the warring sides don't recognize each other's legitimacy:
"Political coalitions and the army are still opposing each other in Libya to this day. General Khalifa Haftar said that he would not allow the inclusion of all armed groups in the army. At the same time, the formations in western Libya differ from those in the capital, both in their political views and goals. One can talk endlessly about the existing contradictions, but there's practically nothing said about joint efforts," the expert said.
After the talks, UN Special Envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame said at the press conference that military commander Khalifa Haftar was "committed" to the UN action plan to hold elections in the north African country by June of next year. But Mufti noted that at the moment, these elections don't seem likely to take place:
"Under these conditions, it is impossible to hold presidential and parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for spring 2019. The largest political players support various opposing sides in Libya, which only aggravates its fragmentation. There is no work being done to overcome the crisis and unite the country," the Egyptian expert concluded.
Libya has been mired in chaos following the 2011 NATO-backed revolt that toppled its longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi. Control of the country is now divided between rival political and military groups. The UN-recognized, Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) controls the country's western part, while its eastern regions are governed by the elected parliament, backed by the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by military commander Khalifa Haftar.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.