African Union leaders on Monday vowed to push peace efforts in Libya, a sign of the bloc’s desire to play a bigger role in resolving the continent’s conflicts.
The AU leadership has complained about being overlooked in Libya-related peacemaking efforts, which have been led primarily by the UN and heavily involved European nations.
As the 55-member group wrapped up a summit, Smail Chergui, the AU’s Peace and Security Council chief, offered assistance to revive Libya’s faltering peace process.
“It’s (the) UN itself which needs us now,” Chergui said. “It’s time to bring this situation to an end… the two organisations should work hand-in-hand for that goal,” he added.
Libya has been torn by fighting between rival factions since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who took over as AU chair on Sunday, has said Libya is one of two conflicts he wants to focus on during his tenure.
The other is South Sudan, where a civil war that began in 2013 has left hundreds of thousands dead – but talks on the sidelines of the AU summit ended in deadlock.
The two-day summit ended in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with the traditional closing session and press conference cancelled. The decisions adopted were expected to be announced later on Tuesday.
Divisions and disagreements
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Saturday said he understood the AU’s “frustration” at having “been put aside” when it comes to Libya.
The North African state remains in chaos, mostly split between strongman Khalifa Haftar, who controls eastern Libya, and the UN-recognised government in Tripoli.
Talks between Libya’s warring factions ended on Saturday with no deal on a ceasefire. The UN has proposed a second round of negotiations for February 18.
Tough line on South Sudan
Meanwhile, on South Sudan, leaders tried to bring longtime rivals together to reach a deal.
President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar face a deadline of February 22 to form a unity government – a milestone that was delayed twice last year.
Ramaphosa met separately with Kiir and Machar on Saturday, and the rivals sat down in the same room Sunday alongside Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok.
Hamdok is the current chair of the eight-member East African bloc IGAD, which has taken the lead in South Sudan peace negotiations.