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Senior diplomats boycott Libyan Arab League meeting


CAIRO – A handful of senior Arab diplomats gathered in the Libyan capital on Sunday at a meeting boycotted by powerful foreign ministers who argued that the mandate of the Tripoli-based government has expired.

Five of the 22 Arab League member states sent their foreign ministers to the periodic consultation meeting. Among them were the most important diplomats from neighboring Algeria and Tunisia, local media reported. Others sent their envoys to the meeting in Tripoli.

Among those boycotting the meeting was Egypt, which questioned the legitimacy of Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dbeibah’s government after Libya’s eastern-based parliament appointed a rival prime minister last year. The foreign ministers of the Gulf monarchies of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were also absent, as was Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit.

Najla Mangoush, the foreign minister of the Libyan government in Tripoli, said in televised comments that they “press for the full exercise of Libya’s rights” in the Arab League, referring to the rotating leadership of the pan-Arab organization .

In September, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry withdrew from an Arab League session chaired by Mangoush, protesting her representation of Libya at the Pan-Arab Summit.

Ahead of Sunday’s meeting, authorities in the Libyan capital granted a day off to officials and closed major roads around Mitiga Airport, the only functional airport in the capital, and a luxury hotel where the meeting was taking place.

The current political deadlock in Libya stems from the failure to hold elections in December 2021 and Dbeibah’s refusal to step down. In response, the country’s eastern parliament has appointed a rival prime minister, Fathy Bashagha, who has been trying for months to install his government in Tripoli.

Protracted clashes between the two governments led to skirmishes in Tripoli last year, jeopardizing the return of civil war in the oil-rich country after months of relative calm.

Last month, UN Special Envoy to Libya Abdoulaye Bathily warned that signs of partition are already apparent and that the political crisis in the country is “affecting the well-being of the people, endangering their security and threatening their very existence” .

The North African nation has plunged into chaos after a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Libya is effectively ruled by a series of rival militias and armed groups in the east and west.

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