Libya’s interior minister Fathi Bashagha completed his three-day visit to France on Friday, where he was seeking Paris' support for his ambitious plans to lead the country to next year's elections. Bashagha, who is known for his close ties with Turkey, was in France to gain support and present himself as the next prime minister of the interim government.
The Libyan interior minister met the French foreign, interior, and defence ministers in Paris and discussed ways to improve cooperation in the security sector and strengthening relations between the two countries.
Fruitful meeting today with @Florence_Parly Minister of French Armed Forces @Armees_Gouv in the context of cooperation in security sector which will promote stability in 🇱🇾 🇫🇷 and the whole region. pic.twitter.com/lTIKrVS6pj— وزير الداخلية الليبي (@fathi_bashagha) November 20, 2020
The French visit of Bashagha, who is a part of the UN-recoginised Government of National Accord (GNA), came as a surprise for many as he is often described as Turkey's man and also because of France's covert support for General Khalifa Haftar, whose east-based forces were involved in a fierce war with GNA troops.
France and Turkey are at loggerheads not just in Libya but also in the Mediterranean and Bashagha's Ankara-link was seen as a stumbling block before his visit.
After the long-term Libyan dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, was toppled by the United States in 2011, Bashagha and several other politicians seized power and have been ruling the war-torn country ever since. However, in 2015, Khalifa Haftar, who was commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) at that time launched a military campaign against GNA. And in August this year, after months of continuous fighting, Haftar's LNA failed to capture capital Tripoli from GNA following which UN-backed talks began between the two factions.
The UN-brokered talks, which concluded on November 15, failed to agree on a transitional government as Fayez Serraj, head of GNA, had announced in September he will be stepping down so as to make way for a new administration. The 75-member forum led by UN acting envoy for Libya Stephanie Williams informed after the talks concluded that they did not discuss names of a president of the presidential council, two presidential deputies, and that of the prime minister.
The forum, which constitutes of members from all factions, is expected to meet again to name a transitional government to lead to the vote scheduled for December next year. Bashagha will be lobbying hard to gain support before the members meet again and his France visit is said was be part of the stunt.
(Image Credit: @fathi_bashagha/Twitter)