Macron Brokers Libyan Consensus on December Elections

(Bloomberg) -- Libya’s competing powers reached a “consensus” on holding presidential and parliamentary elections in December, signaling a possible way out of the chaos that has gripped the nation for more than seven years.

The leaders agreed to a statement that called for the “phasing out of parallel governments and institutions” and said that anyone who interferes in the election process “will be held to account.”

The meeting in Paris brought together internationally-recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj: military commander Khalifa Haftar, whose army controls Libya’s east; and the heads of Libya’s House of Representatives and High Council of State, whose support would be necessary to implement any deal. The four men stood on a podium together as the agreement was read out, but they did not sign it.

“It wasn’t signed because you have people in front of you who don’t formally recognize each other,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, the meeting’s host. “That is the whole complication. This is the formula we chose, to get them together, to get them to work together, to get them to commit to each other.”

The gathering, sponsored by the UN and attended by its special emissary for Libya Ghassan Salame, is the latest push to end years of fighting in a country with Africa’s largest proven crude reserves. Macron hosted a similar meeting last July near Paris that produced few concrete results.

The final statement calls for finalizing a constitutional framework for the elections by Sept. 16 and holding the vote on Dec. 10. Serraj said at a press conference afterward that the sides agreed to continue with the so-called “Cairo” process of merging rival military forces.

Macron said Libya’s precarious security situation was the greatest threat to elections.

“The collective engagement we saw today allows us to reduce the capacity of certain terrorists or militias to stand in the way,” Macron said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.