By Libya Herald Reporters.
Tunis, 14 January 2017:
Presidency Council chairman Faiez Serraj has left the two-day France-Africa summit in the Mali capital Bamako which had been dominated by concerns over the disputed presidential election in the Gambia and where Libya was at best a side issue.
The group photograph of the 35 heads of state had Serraj standing on the far left, while French president Francois Hollande took centre-stage beside the summit’s host, Mali’s president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.
Serraj had flown in from Cairo where he had held further talks with Egyptian president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. Today it was the turn of UNSMIL chief Martin Kobler to arrive in the Egyptian capital for more high level talks. These are aimed at getting the Libyan Political Agreement back on track with amendments that could address eastern concerns that the control of the armed forces would be ceded by the House of Representatives to the Presidency Council.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) had threatened to assault the summit and it was reported that French intelligence had foiled a planned attack with rockets and mortars. Meeting organisers said that 10,000 security personnel were deployed in Bamako.
Terrorism was one of the issues discussed. France’s role in Libya has, as far as is known, been confined to Benghazi where last year special forces were involved in the Libyan National Army’ fight against the Benghazi Revolutionaries’ Shoura Council and its IS and Ansar Al-Sharia terrorist allies in Benghazi.
However, on Libya’s southern border with Mali French troops have been operating against suspected terrorists as part of the wider Operation Barkhane, which involves up to 4,000 members of the French military in five countries.