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War dominates Africa summit as leaders vow Libya support

AFP / Addis Ababa

Tuesday، 11 February 2020 12:01 AM

African Union leaders vowed yesterday to push peace efforts in Libya, a sign of the bloc’s desire to play a bigger role in resolving the continent’s conflicts.
As the 55-member group wrapped up a two-day summit, Smail Chergui, the AU’s Peace and Security Council chief, offered assistance to revive Libya’s faltering UN-led peace process.
“It’s (the) UN itself which needs us now,” Chergui said.
“It’s time to bring this situation to an end... the two organisations should work hand in hand for that goal,” he added.
Libya has been torn by fighting between rival factions since a 2011 Nato-backed uprising killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who took over as AU chair on Sunday, has said Libya is one of two conflicts he wants to focus on during his tenure.
The other is South Sudan, where a civil war that began in 2013 has left hundreds of thousands dead — but talks on the sidelines of the AU summit ended in deadlock. The AU leadership has complained about being overlooked in Libya-related peacemaking efforts, which have been led primarily by the UN and heavily involved European nations.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday said he understood the AU’s “frustration” at having “been put aside” when it comes to Libya.
The North African state remains in chaos, mostly split between strongman Khalifa Haftar, who controls eastern Libya, and the UN-recognised government in Tripoli.
Talks between Libya’s warring factions ended on Saturday with no deal on a ceasefire.
The UN has proposed a second round of negotiations for February 18.
Chergui said the AU could support peace if a cessation of hostilities agreement is finally signed, declaring the AU wanted to be part of an observer mission to ensure any deal is respected. “This is an African problem, and we have a certain sense that maybe others do not have,” Chergui said.
Despite AU optimism, analysts are sceptical.

TOUGH LINE 
ON SOUTH SUDAN

Meanwhile, on South Sudan, leaders tried to bring longtime rivals to reach a deal.

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar face a deadline of February 22 to form a unity government — a milestone that was delayed twice last year.
Ramaphosa met separately with Kiir and Machar on Saturday, and the rivals sat down in the same room Sunday alongside Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok.

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