African Union to boost Libya peace efforts

African Union to boost Libya peace efforts
African Union to boost Libya peace efforts

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - ADDIS ABABA — The African Union vowed on Monday to boost efforts to end the crisis in Libya and support a faltering UN-led peace process, the AU's Peace and Security Council chief said.

"It's (the) UN itself which needs us now," Smail Chergui told reporters on the sidelines of the AU summit in Ethiopia.

"It's time to bring this situation to an end... the two organizations should work hand in hand for that goal," he added.

Libya has been torn by fighting between rival armed factions since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed dictator Muammar Gadhafi.

But the AU leadership has complained at being overlooked in peacemaking efforts, which have been led primarily by the UN and heavily involved European nations.

But 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 the deal was kept.

"This is an African problem, and we have a certain sense that maybe others do not have," Chergui said.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Saturday said he understood the AU's "frustration" at having "been put aside" when it comes to Libya.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who takes over as AU chair on Monday, has said Libya would be a key focus of his tenure as the pan-African bloc seeks a more prominent role in solving conflicts on the continent.

Despite AU optimism, analysts are skeptical.

"The AU bandwidth on Libya cannot in any way be compared to the UN's involvement just in simple terms of knowledge and presence on the ground," said Claudia Gazzini, from the International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank.

The North African state remains in chaos, mostly split between Libyan National Army chief Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who controls eastern Libya, and the the Tripoli-based Government of National Alliance.

Talks between Libya's warring factions ended on Saturday with no deal on a cease-fire. The UN has proposed a second round of negotiations for Feb. 18.

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