Egypt, Libya boycott AU meet on Libya

ADDIS ABABA – Egypt and Libya have boycotted an international conference on the Libyan crisis organized by the African Union (AU), in protest over the presence of Qatar and Turkey at the meeting, an Anadolu Agency correspondent reported.

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed al-Dairi walked out of the conference room in Addis Ababa on Wednesday morning within minutes after the start of the opening session, while his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry failed to attend the session, which was delayed for half an hour.

The two diplomat's absence as well as the session's delay signaled the failure of reported attempts by African Union and UN officials to convince Egypt and Libya to attend the conference.

Egypt and Libya had objected to the AU's invitation to Turkey and Qatar to take part in the conference at the pan-African body's headquarters in Addis Ababa, an African diplomat had told The Anadolu Agency.

Shoukry had told Ismail al-Sharqawi, the AU's Peace and Security Council chief, that there was "no need" for the participation of Doha and Ankara at the meeting, according to the source.

However, African officials had insisted on Doha and Ankara's presence, saying the two countries have a stake in the Libyan conflict, the source said.

Relations between Cairo on one hand and Doha and Ankara on the other have been strained since the military ouster of Egypt's elected President Mohamed Morsi in the summer of 2013.

Since then, Doha and Ankara - who had been allies to the Morsi administration - had been vocally critical of Egypt's military-backed authorities, while Egypt had accused the two countries of interfering in its affairs.

Moreover, the internationally-backed Libyan government, which convenes in Tobruk city, had accused Doha and Ankara of sponsoring the rival Islamist government in Tripoli.

The International Contact Group for Libya met on Wednesday in Addis Ababa to discuss the Libyan crisis, amid divisions between participants' stances on the option of conducting a military intervention in the violence-ridden country.

The group is composed of 16 Arab and European countries, in addition to the AU, the Arab League and the UN.

The UN envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, will submit a report on the situation to the Contact Group, sources had told AA.

Libya has remained in a state of turmoil since the fall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime in 2011. Rival militias have frequently clashed in Libya's main cities, including capital Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi.

Political divisions have yielded two rival seats of government in the country, each of which has its own institutions.

Vying for legislative authority are the internationally-backed House of Representatives, which convenes in the eastern city of Tobruk, and the Islamist-led General National Congress, which – even though its mandate has ended – continues to convene in Tripoli.

The two assemblies support two different governments headquartered in the two respective cities as well as two military entities.

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