In order to “give a common impetus for elections”, the French President Emmanuel Macron organized an international Libya conference in Paris on Friday.

In the country torn by civil war, the first round of presidential elections is to be organized on December 24, the second round and parliamentary elections are to follow in February.

It would be the first time that Libyans would be able to elect their president in direct elections.

The elections are "within reach", stressed President Macron.

Michaela Wiegel

Political correspondent based in Paris.

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Matthias Rüb

Political correspondent for Italy, the Vatican, Albania and Malta based in Rome.

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Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi came to Paris as co-chairs of the conference. The American Vice President Kamala Harris was also present, which was seen as a renewed American interest in stabilizing Libya. Turkish President Recep Taieb Erdogan, who exercises great influence in Libya, stayed away from the conference. He cited the invitation from the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis as the reason. Unlike the German government at the Libya Conference in Berlin, President Macron refused to offload Greece's EU partner and NATO ally out of consideration for Erdogan. An agreement on the withdrawal of foreign mercenaries, who are on duty in Libya with Turkish and Russian aid, among others, should make this more difficult.Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov took part in the conference for Russia. Moscow denies direct influence over the mercenaries of the Wagner group in Libya.

Burden for the entire Sahel area

"Foreign soldiers and mercenaries are still active in Libya," said the latest report by the United Nations Mission in Libya on August 25.

President Macron wants to help African states like Chad withdraw their mercenaries from Libya.

Before the conference opened, he organized a meeting with the heads of state of Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger in the Elysée Palace on Friday.

The instability in Libya is considered a burden for the entire Sahel region.

That is one of the reasons Macron withdrew its initial support for the warlord Khalifa Haftar.

In contrast to the first Libya conferences hosted in Paris, he was not invited.

Haftar's support had created serious tensions with Italy.

In Rome it is emphasized that the former differences with Paris in the Libya policy have been overcome and that the neighboring states are now pulling together. For the Draghi government, efforts to stabilize Libya rest on four pillars: In addition to the timely holding of the presidential elections, there are further consolidation of the ceasefire between the civil war parties, the withdrawal of foreign militias and the humane treatment of migrants on their way to Europe. Of the 58,000 or so migrants who, according to official figures, reached Italy this year, most of them came from the Libyan coast via the Mediterranean Sea.

In a telephone conversation, Draghi assured the Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah that the European mediators would support the presidential election.

Dbeibah is now intending to run, even though he should have resigned three months before the vote.

The elections are undisguisedly torpedoed by the President of the Libyan State Council Khalid al Mishri, although the State Council - a kind of consultative parliamentary chamber - officially supports the transitional government under Dbeibah.