France will reopen its embassy in Tripoli on Monday to demonstrate its support for the North African country’s new unity government. President Emmanuel Macron announced on Tuesday after meeting with the head of the interim presidency council.
Libya’s unity government, headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, took office on March 16 after a smooth transition of power from two rival administrations that ruled the country’s eastern and western regions.
“We will do everything in our power to defend this sovereignty and stability agenda,” Macron said in Paris alongside Libyan presidency council head Mohammed al-Menfi.
“Our embassy in Tripoli will reopen on Monday, and our ambassador will return to your territory,” he said.
As fighting erupted in Tripoli in July 2014, Paris closed its embassy after evacuating some 50 French and British nationals. Its ambassador is based in neighboring Tunis, Tunisia’s capital.
Menfi was on his first overseas trip since being appointed to his post, which was established through a UN-mediated process.
During UN-sponsored negotiations in February, Prime Minister Dbeibah and an interim three-member presidential council were chosen.
The new transitional executive was formed due to the United Nations peace process, which began in Tunis in November and was ratified in Geneva. On March 10, Libya’s parliament ratified it.
Rich in oil Libya has been at war since 2011 when a NATO-backed rebellion toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was a key supporter of the NATO-led military campaign that led to Gaddafi’s demise.
“I want here to show you all my support and that of France for the new Libyan unified authorities that emerged from the transition process,” said Macron.
“We have a debt towards Libya and the Libyans for a decade of disorder,” said Macron, adding that regional stability would be impossible without peace in Libya.
Macron has been harshly critical of Turkey’s military intervention in Libya while also dismissing claims that Paris secretly supported Libya’s eastern renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar in the conflict. The eastern government-backed Haftar.
Turkey-backed the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), which controlled western Libya to fight against Haftar’s forces.
Following a year of intense fighting, the GNA eventually defeated Haftar’s forces, supported by the UAE, Egypt, France, and Russia, last April.
Macron insisted that the withdrawal of Turkish forces and pro-Ankara Syrian militias, as well as Russian mercenaries who are allegedly on the ground, was a top priority.
An estimated 20,000 mercenaries and foreign fighters remain in the country, which Dbeibah has described as a “stab in the back.” Last week, the United Nations Security Council called on all foreign troops to leave “immediately.”
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