The leader of the Libyan National Army, Jalifa Haftar, has expressed his support for the peace process that seeks to put an end to the decade-long chaos in Libya. The eastern Libyan strongman also endorsed the new interim government in charge of the democratic transition, offering "the support of the Armed Forces for the peace process, to defend democracy and the peaceful transfer of power".
Haftar's office officially stated the marshal's position after receiving in Benghazi the new president of Libya's Presidential Council, Mohamad Yunes Menfi. During the meeting, Haftar himself conveyed to Menfi his approval of the "national unity government produced by the political dialogue to unify the institutions and lead the country to the next elections in December".
It was Menfi himself who decided to travel from Athens to the country's second largest city and meet with the commander-in-chief of the Libyan National Army instead of visiting the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh. The new president of Libya's Presidential Council also met with dozens of tribal elders, academics and activists inside the VIP lounge of Benina airport, located 19 km west of Benghazi.
The Libyan civil war, which began in 2011 after the overthrow of Muammar al-Gaddafi, led to the division of the country in 2014. In the western part of the country, the UN-recognised Government of National Accord was established, based in Tripoli and backed by Turkey. In the eastern part, the Libyan National Army set up its administration in the city of Benghazi and received support mainly from Russia.
However, the situation changed with the ceasefire last October and took a final turn on 5 February, when participants in UN-led peace talks in Switzerland chose a new interim government to manage Libya's democratic transition and conduct parliamentary and presidential elections on 24 December.
Abdul Hamid Mohamed Dbeibah and Mohamad Yunes Menfi were chosen as Prime Minister and President of the Presidential Council, respectively, by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum. The group, composed of 75 participants selected by the UN to represent a cross-section of Libyan society, issued the result to restore power in the country after several months of negotiations.
According to the rules set by the negotiating members, the new prime minister still has two weeks to form a new government and present it to parliament. The latter has been divided since 2019, which makes any majority agreement difficult. However, the participants decided to retain the authority to ratify the new government in the event of parliamentary deadlock.
The speaker of the eastern House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, as well as the eastern government's interior and defence ministers, Fathi Bashagha and Saleh Namroush, publicly declared their support for the new government after losing the election. Haftar had already welcomed the appointment of the new government and hailed its leaders as "national figures".
Mohamad Yunes Menfi, as president of the Presidential Council, and Abdul Hamid Mohamed Dbeibah, as interim prime minister, are the new faces that make up the axis of power in Libya. Both will be in charge of overseeing the democratic process leading up to the elections in December.
The Menfi-led Presidential Council will also include Mosa al-Koni and Abdullah Hussein al-Lafi. The three members of the highest body of power each represent a region of ancient Libya, namely Tripolitania in the west, Cyrenaica in the east and Fezzan in the southwest. The three components are the symbolic representation of the new unity of the Libyan people.
Menfi himself occupied the Libyan Consulate in Greece before being expelled in December 2019 following the maritime agreement reached between the Tripoli government and Turkey. However, he remained in Greece with his family without diplomatic status. Dbeibah, on the other hand, is an engineer who has worked as a construction entrepreneur. Both profiles share, according to analysts, an Islamist profile and maintain close ties with Turkey.