Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj recently performed a complete U-turn and withdrew his resignation as Prime Minister. This means that he will remain in office until the ongoing intra-Libyan political dialog comes to an end.
Last week, Stephanie Williams, the acting head of the United Nations (UN) mission in Libya, presided over a permanent nationwide ceasefire including the exit of all foreign fighters and mercenaries from the nation for a minimum of three months.
The ceasefire includes the full opening of land and air routes, efforts to tackle hate speech, an exchange of prisoners and plans to rebuild the Petroleum Facilities Guard, a militia body and oil company linked to the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA), General Khalifa Haftar.
This Ceasefire Has More Potential to Stick
Although many ceasefires have been agreed and shattered in Libya with frequency, this time it could be different because senior military officers have signed the agreement.
The ceasefire also paves the way for political talks between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the LNA on future power-sharing arrangements, as well as the future of sovereign institutions like the Central Bank of Libya and the Libyan Investment Authority.
The Libyan Prime Minister’s decision was motivated by the insistence of the High Council of State, which suggested that al-Serraj should remain until a new presidential council is selected to prevent a political vacuum detrimental to Libya’s stability. This just shows how much support the Libyan Prime Minister has at the top and how crucial he is in uniting the opposing sides in Libya’s war.
Al-Serraj Has the Support of the International Community
Al-Serraj enjoys international support. According to al-Jazeera, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas pleaded with the Libyan Prime Minister to remain in his post “in order to guarantee institutional and executive continuity” in the crucial weeks ahead, which is a reference to in-person negotiations due to take place on November 9 in Tunisia, to discuss holding national elections.
Furthermore, the UN recognizes the GNA as the only legitimate governing body in Libya, as does the U.S., Turkey and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and all of these factors are a significant boost to al-Serraj’s premiership.
Al-Serraj also enjoys support from the GNA as they released their own statement begging for him to remain in office. Because of the domestic and international support that the Libyan Prime Minister has, it is clear that if he did permanently resign, it would have had a detrimental impact on the Libyan peace process. Therefore, al-Serraj is the only Libyan politician capable of ensuring that his country’s latest ceasefire becomes permanent.
The Libyan Prime Minister is capable of building ties with nations that once supported the LNA. Al-Sarraj used a Twitter account that he created recently to thank Egypt for welcoming Libya’s permanent ceasefire. He also told Bloomberg that support from Egypt, the US and Turkey is crucial.
Al-Serraj Must Do All He Can to Make Libyan Peace a Reality
However, Egypt’s support for peace comes at a price. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi warned during his meeting with Libyan tribal chiefs on July 16 that the Sirte-Jufra red line, which is crucial to both Cairo and the LNA due to its vast oil supplies, must not be crossed. If al-Serraj is serious about remaining in office until the peace process has been completed, these are factors he must take into consideration.
The only country acting as an obstacle to peace right now is the UAE. They could persuade Haftar to disrupt the peace process and push for Turkey to be expelled from Libya. As Tarek Megerisi wrote for the European Council of Foreign Relations, the LNA chief should be threatened with sanctions if he disrupts the upcoming proceedings.
It is a huge relief for all the parties involved in the Libyan ceasefire that al-Serraj has withdrawn his resignation. The world will be watching him closely in the coming weeks.