The European Union has removed an east Libyan powerbroker from its sanctions blacklist to encourage peace efforts and ensure the EU plays a central role in any negotiated settlement in Libya.
Aguila Saleh, leader of a rival parliament in eastern Libya, no longer faces EU travel bans and asset freezes imposed four years ago, the EU said on Friday, confirming a Reuters report on September 9 that the so-called delisting was planned.
“The de-listing of speaker Saleh was agreed in light of his recent constructive engagement in support of a negotiated political solution to the Libyan crisis,” an EU statement said.
After months of inaction, European powers see a chance to reassert their role in Libya – which has been in turmoil since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi – after a ceasefire in August and to counter growing Turkish and Russian military involvement.
The United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in June turned back a 14-month assault on the capital Tripoli by the eastern-based self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.
The two are now dug in along a front line near the strategic city of Sirte.
Saleh is seen as having gained clout as a negotiating force relative to Haftar.
The EU now sees Saleh as a pivotal figure in a push to bring the two sides of the Libyan conflict together.