Skip to main content

Hollande rules out French intervention in Libya

UN postpones Libya peace talks again but the Arab League will discuss the conflict amid reports of Qatari mediation between warring sides
French president Francois Hollande walks past a band in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace in Paris on 5 January, 2015 (AFP)

President Francois Hollande said Monday that France would not intervene unilaterally in Libya and urged the international community to take action to stem the deepening crisis in the country.

"We are acting to contain terrorism in the south, but France will not intervene in Libya because it's for the international community to live up to its responsibilities," Hollande told French radio.

Asked if France would take action in a United Nations-mandated operation, Hollande said there would have to be a "clear mandate", "clear organisation" and the "political conditions" would have to be in place.

"We're not yet going down that road," added Hollande.

The president of neighbouring Niger said on Friday that a solution to the crisis in Libya was not possible without international intervention.

"I do not see how the armed terrorist militias can create the conditions for reconciliation among Libyans," said President Mahamadou Issoufou. 

"An international intervention is essential to the reconciliation of all Libyans," including supporters of former strongman Muammar Gaddafi, who himself was deposed and killed in 2011 after an international military intervention. 

The Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) militia alliance, which controls most of the capital as well as third city Misrata, launched an offensive last month to try to capture the country's main eastern oil export terminals.

UN postpones Libya peace talks again

The United Nations postponed peace talks between Libya's warring factions which had been scheduled for Monday without announcing a new date.

The talks had originally been slated for December 9 but have been repeatedly delayed as fighting has intensified between the two rival governments and parliaments.

UN Special Representative Bernardino Leon in Libya chaired a first round of talks between rival lawmakers in the oasis town of Ghadames in September.

But his efforts to convene a new round of talks and to broker parallel negotiations between the warring parties have so far failed, despite a warning by the UN Security Council in October that it would impose sanctions on any party that undermined the process.

The Tobruk-based parliament voted last week not to attend any negotiations if the rival legislature in Tripoli was invited.

Qatari FM meets Libya's al-Dairi in Doha

Meanwhile, Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid Al-Attiyah met on Sunday with Mohamed al-Dairi, the foreign minister of Libya's Tobruk-based government, in Qatari capital Doha.

Discussions between the Qatari Foreign Minister and the Libyan official focused on latest developments on the ground in Libya as well as ways of boosting security and stability in the country, the official Qatari news agency has reported.

This is al-Dairi's first visit to Qatar since he was appointed in September of last year.

The official reception he was given in Doha may signal a possible shift in Qatar's position to the Tobruk-based government and parliament.

Qatar used to throw its full weight behind Libya's General National Congress (GNC), whose mandate ended months ago, but still functions and has its own government in Libyan capital Tripoli.

Al-Dairi's visit to Doha also comes amid unconfirmed reports that Qatar is mediating a settlement to the conflict in Libya.

Arab League to discuss Libya conflict

Meanwhile, Arab League ambassadors will meet on Monday to discuss the deepening conflict in Libya, the bloc's deputy secretary general Ahmed Ben Helli said.

The meeting at the Cairo-based League was requested by Libya's Tobruk-based government, which is supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

"The meeting will be devoted to discussing the dangerous developments that Libya is experiencing, the increase in violence and acts of terrorism," Ben Helli told reporters on Sunday.

These acts "are affecting not only individuals... but also vital economic infrastructure on which the wealth of the Libyan people depends, particularly oil storage tanks."

Two crew members of oil tanker killed in air attack

The air force of Libya's Tobruk-based government said Monday that it carried out a deadly weekend air strike on an oil tanker in the Islamist-held eastern port of Derna.

Two crew members of an oil tanker were killed in the air attack on Sunday, officials said.

Greek coastguards said a 29-year-old Greek was among two crew members of the Liberian-registered Araevo killed and that two were also wounded in Sunday's air strike. The other victim was not identified.

The air force opened fire "after the crew refused to heed orders to stop for a search operation" Libyan spokesman Colonel Ahmed Mesmari said, describing the tanker as "suspicious".

Mesmari said that the tanker had turned off its lights "in preparation for entering the (Derna) port... and because of this it and its cargo were considered suspicious".

According to Greek coastguards, the vessel was at anchor and laden with 1,600 tonnes of crude oil when it was hit.

Twenty-one members of the crew of 26 were Filipinos, with three Greeks and two Romanians.

Previous air raids on Libya were reportedly carried out by the UAE, or with help from Egypt.