Tunisia keeps up the pace for peace

By Libya Herald reporters.

State Council chairman Abdulrahman Sewehli with the Tunisian president (Photo: TAP)

State Council chairman Abdulrahman Sewehli with the Tunisian president (Photo: TAP)

Tunis, 23 February 2017:

Tunisia is keeping up the pace in the search for a Libyan political compromise.

Today Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi had talks with State Council chairman Abdulrahman Sewehli.  Yesterday foreign minister Khemaies Jhinaoui met former Presidency Council member Musa Koni, who quit Faiez Serraj’s government last month saying that the Council had failed to deliver which meant that he too had failed.

Essebsi told Sewehli that his country did not want to interfere in Libya’s affairs but wanted to remain neutral.  However he said  it would continue to encourage dialogue and the “intensifying” of talks between Libya’s political figures.  He insisted the current impasse had to be broken.

He described the Libya’s current position as delicate and warned that without reconciliation its instability could spill over into its neighbours and father afield.

Sewehli assured the president that Libyans wanted peace. He thanked Tunisia for its attempts to support Libya in particular with the recent tripartite ‘Tunis Declaration,’ an initiative to quickly get mediation efforts back on track.  Such efforts would reenergise dialogue in Libya as momentum begins to build, the State Council chairman added.

Nonetheless, Sewehli warned that he rejected all forms of intrusion into Libya’s internal affairs, though he praised Tunisia’s apparent impartiality.

When Koni visited the Tunisian foreign ministry yesterday, Jhinaoui briefed him on the Tunis Declaration. He echoed Essebsi’s insistence that a solution could only from dialogue not violence. Compromise by everyone, whatever their views, was he said essential.  Even though by resigning, Koni has taken himself out of the political mainstream, it is perhaps indicative of Tunisia’s determination to talk to everyone who might matter, that Jhinaoui was still prepared to take time out to welcome him.

Jhinaoui also saw UNSMIL chief Martin Kobler, making his second visit to the foreign ministry in a fortnight.  After being briefed on the tripartite talks, Kobler thanked the Tunisians along with the Algerians and Egyptians for their work on the Tunis Declaration. He said the initiative had been welcomed by many of the Libyan officials he had met over the past few days.

Indeed Kobler has been even more than usually busy. Two days ago he was in Tripoli where he had separate talks with Serraj and Sewehli. At the weekend he had been in Alexandria where among other meetings,  he had what he claimed were constructive talks with House of Representatives president Ageela Saleh.

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