[WATCH] Tobruk-based government 'aspires' for unity government deal tomorrow

Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al Thinni says his government ‘made concessions’ to reach deal for a national unity government • ‘Difficult to name a new prime minister or president at this stage’

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al Thinni
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al Thinni
Libyan PM Abdullah al-Thinni in Malta for talks with PM Joseph Muscat

Delegations from rival Libyan parliaments are meeting in Morocco tomorrow, hoping to nail down a preliminary deal on the unity talks.

In Malta heading a delegation of ministers, Libyan prime minister Abdullah al Thinni said his government, recognised by the international community, “aspired to sign” the deal tomorrow.

“It goes without saying that there will be a lot of discussions and obstacles from sectors not to make it happen. But we aspire to sign it tomorrow and make it happen,” he said.

“There are indeed voices creating obstacles, especially the warmongers who are supporting extremists. Any decision that will be taken will have its enemies. But the wise and kind people will strive to reach a permanent solution. Because each drop of blood that is coming from Libya is of paramount loss … the Libyans dying are a loss for all Libya.”

Al Thinni told journalists in Valletta that they worked for consensus and “we made concessions to reach an agreement”.

“But we refused any changes to the basic fundamental values and the Libyan parliament has accepted the different general conference which is in itself a concession.”

He said, that it was too early to name a prime minister or president who would lead the national unity government. “It will be a victory when this person would be chosen with an 80% backing.”

The seat of government will be in Tripoli.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat welcomed the “more positive outlook” that was conveyed by the Libyan delegation on the prospect of an agreement. Muscat said that the Tobruk-based government was “unequivocally committed to peace and the reconciliation process in Libya”.

Libya continues to see Malta as its voice in the European Union. Muscat was urged to transmit Libya’s position to the EU: “We are not boycotting any dialogue and we are supporting it. Proposing adjustments is not a boycott.”

The Maltese prime minister welcomed the reconciliation among Libyan towns.

The growing IS threat in Libya was discussed with Libya briefing Malta on the steps being taken and the Libyan government’s outlook on the force with a strong presence in Sirte and Derna and the presence of Ansar al Sharia in other parts of the country.

“The fight against ISIS is imperative. Any sane government would fight these groups. Daesh is a dangerous world which we all should fight. Fighting them is of upmost priority for any incoming government,” Al Thinni said.

Ever since war broke out in Libya in 2011 to overthrow dictator Muammar Ghaddafi, many civilians and militia members were handed weapons – weapons which are still in their hands.

Asked whether a weapon handover scheme has been discussed, Al Thinni said that the issue had not yet been discussed.

“It will be within a comprehensive plan … the most important thing is that weapons are held by army and police institutions as is acceptable worldwide.”

Migration and the EU’s response to the mounting migrant crisis was also discussed.

Al Thinni said the Libyan state should be part of the fight against illegal migration and that he had no objection to the movement in international waters “according to international conventions”.

Muscat said it was the EU’s preference as well for the national unity government to form part of the EU’s plan to fight human traffickers and “safeguard Libya’s borders”.

Accompanying the Libyan prime minister was a delegation including a number of ministers who will tomorrow hold bilateral meetings with Foreign Affairs Minister George Vella, Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi, Education Minister Evarist Bartolo, Economy Minister Chris Cardona and Social Solidarity Minister Michael Farrugia.

Malta, Muscat said, was committed to take an active part in the reconstruction and reconciliation of the Libyan state and provide the necessary support for the building of institutions.

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