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International conference on Libya backs electoral process, demands foreign forces withdraw

European powers demanded on Friday the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Libya and threatened sanctions against those obstructing or undermining political transition as the war-torn country makes its first move toward political stability with elections.

An international conference in Paris, co-chaired by Libyan authorities along with France, Germany, Italy and the UN, agreed on an electoral calendar, cease-fire agreement and withdrawal of all foreign fighters.

The conference also included the participation of 23 countries and four regional organizations.

Voting for the presidential and parliamentary elections is scheduled for Dec 24.

A joint statement at the end of the daylong conference affirmed any “individuals or entities, inside or outside of Libya, who might attempt to obstruct, undermine, manipulate or falsify the electoral process and the political transition” will be held accountable and liable to UN Security Council sanctions.

French President Emmanuel Macron said other important facets decided was in applying the “action plan for the withdrawal of mercenaries, foreign fighters and foreign forces from the Libyan territory.”

“Three hundred mercenaries are preparing to leave the country as I speak. it is the beginning which makes the process credible,” he said at a news conference.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the prerequisite for the proper functioning of the democracy was stability and security and foreign mercenaries must leave.

She noted the format of the conference involving the President of the interim Presidency Council and the Prime Minister of the interim government of National Unity of Libya, alongside European nations, was important so that Libya could decide its future.

Merkel said participants agreed to recognize the results of the elections “no matter what.”

“We ask that the vote of the Libyan people be accepted because we are talking about 3 million people who have already registered as voters,” she said.

Italian premier Mario Draghi said the presence of the two Libyan co-chairs at the conference was extremely promising and it was significant that Libyans are ready to work among themselves.

“There has been no war for the last one and half years. This is a demonstration that the process of cease-fire and rebuilding of security is working.”

The conference brought France and Italy together. The two nations had until now been on warring sides of the Libyan conflict and it signaled reconciliation between the European powers.

Draghi said the French and Italian relationship and positions are based on “reciprocal trust.”

“If we do not reach agreements then we cannot help Libya,” he said.

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