Hani al-Gamal – CAIRO
Libyan military officials meeting in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Hurghada, within the 5 + 5 Committee talks, have agreed to hold a referendum on the draft constitution in preparation for holding general and presidential elections in December this year.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry, which organised the meeting, welcomed its results and said it looks forward to hosting the last meeting of the committee on the proposed Libyan constitution next month. “The meeting will lay out a roadmap for the referendum and the subsequent elections,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
In Cairo, political analysts commend the Egyptian government for hosting the talks and trying to help the Libyan rivals reach an agreement.
“Libya is a strategic depth for Egypt,” said Sharif al-Khreibi, a member of think tank, Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs. “Egypt is also a main player on the Libyan scene,” he told MedyaNews.
He said Egypt’s intervention in the Libyan file would prevent any future expansion of Turkish influence in Libya, especially after the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord allowed Turkey to have political presence in western Libya.
The negotiations in Hurghada, al-Khreibi said, formulated a mechanism for Libya’s transition, one that brings calm to Egypt’s border with the neighboring country. He added that the same transition would open the door for the return of Libyan institutions to get back to work.
Al-Khreibi said the negotiations in Cairo focused on the formulation of a new constitution that ensures equal representation for all Libyan regions. “It will also ensure the fair distribution of power and wealth,” he said.
The unrest in Libya has negative consequences for security in Egypt which shares an extended border with the restive state.
Egypt says terrorist groups active in the neighboring country capitalise on the lack of security in Libya and smuggle arms and explosives into Egypt. These arms and explosives, it adds, end up in the hands of terrorists fighting the Egyptian army and police in the Sinai Peninsula northeastern Egypt.
Turkish presence in western Libya also threatens Egypt’s interests in the East Mediterranean, especially with the populous Arab country’s plans to turn the newly-found natural gas wealth in the region into a source of cooperation among regional states.
Libyan political analyst Abdel Baset bin Hamel said the 5 + 5 Committee talks offer a clear path for getting out of the Libyan crisis.
“The talks should prepare Libya for elections, something that will open the door for the presence of a new government that leads the country out of its current crisis,” bin Hamel told MedyaNews.
He added that the talks contributed to bridging gaps between Libyan rivals in the past months.
Nevertheless, bin Hamel warned against the effects of deteriorating security conditions in Libya on the country’s ability to move ahead with implementing its transition plan, including the holding of elections.
“Foreign interference in Libya’s affairs, especially from Turkey, also threatens this transition,” bin Hamel said.