World Bulletin / News Desk
Two leaders affiliated with Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament turned down offers to meet in Cairo for political talks, Fayez al-Sarraj, head of Libya’s UN-backed unity government, said Wednesday.
Speaking to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper, al-Sarraj said that Khalifa Haftar -- who leads military forces loyal to Tobruk -- and Akila Saleh -- speaker of the assembly -- had both rejected offers to hold talks in the Egyptian capital on Tuesday.
"A planned meeting in Cairo failed to materialize yesterday after Field-Marshal Khalifa Haftar and… Akila Saleh both declined to attend," al-Sarraj was quoted as saying.
The planned meeting, al-Sarraj added, had been intended to tackle outstanding differences between the Tobruk-based parliament and al-Sarraj’s unity government, based in capital Tripoli.
"Their intransigence has led to political stagnation and will contribute to the Libyan people’s suffering," he asserted.
"Egypt is making tremendous efforts [to mediate between Libya’s rival camps], which we appreciate, but without dialogue, no meeting can succeed," he added.
Al-Sarraj also announced plans to unveil a new political roadmap "within days" while declining to elaborate further.
In response to a question on the formation of Libya’s next government, al-Sarraj said: "The priority now is to amend the Constitutional Declaration, which has continued to hinder the operation of parliament."
Issued in August of 2011, in the wake of Libya’s bloody popular uprising, the Constitutional Declaration is meant to serve as a national charter until a permanent constitution is drawn up.
Earlier this week, both Haftar and al-Sarraj arrived separately in Cairo for separate talks with Egyptian officials.
On Tuesday, the Egyptian army issued a statement voicing support for Libyan proposals to hold parliamentary and presidential polls by February of next year at the latest.
Libya has been wracked by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody uprising ended with the ouster and death of longtime strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
In the wake of the uprising, the North African country’s stark political divisions yielded two rival seats of government, one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli, each of which boasts its own military capacity and legislative assembly.
In an effort to resolve the political standoff, Libya’s rival governments signed a UN-backed agreement late last year establishing a government of national unity.