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Tunisian president to visit Libya in show of support for new government

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Libya's Interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah (R) attends a national conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, at a conference hall in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, on March 13, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Tunisian President Kais Saied is set to head to Libya in a show of support for the country's newly formed, United Nations-backed unity government, the first presidential trip between the neighboring countries since 2012.

Saied will travel to Libya on Wednesday, his office announced in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the visit aimed to show "Tunisia's support for the democratic process in Libya" following the swearing-in on Monday of a new interim prime minister.

The office did not specify who Saied would meet with during his trip to Libya.

Abdul Hamid Dbeibah was sworn in as Libya's interim prime minister until elections are held on December 24, following years-long violence and division in the North African country.

Dbeibah was selected through a UN-facilitated process early last month.

Tunisia hosted UN-backed talks between delegates from Libya's warring sides late last year, which helped pave the way for the fragile breakthrough.

Dbeibah’s new interim government replaces two rival administrations, an internationally-recognized government based in the capital, Tripoli, and another camp based in the eastern city of Tobruk, backed militarily by armed rebels.

Libya descended into unprecedented chaos in 2019 after the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), under the command of renegade general Khalifa Haftar, moved toward Tripoli to seize the city. The rebels were eventually repelled by government forces, however.

The conflict has escalated into a regional proxy war fueled by foreign powers pouring weapons and mercenaries into the country.

Libya was a major destination for Tunisian farm produce and building materials as well as migrant labor before plunging into chaos in 2011 following a popular uprising and a NATO intervention that led to the ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The years of conflict have resulted in prolonged border closures that have hit the volume of business.


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