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Libya's rogue general Haftar 'to run for president in 2018'

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Libya's rogue general Haftar 'to run for president in 2018'

Libya's powerful eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar will run for president in March 2018 under an accord he reached with the country's prime minister Fayez al-Seraj in the United Arab Emirates, according to a Libyan media report on Wednesday.

The two rival leaders had agreed during a rare face-to-face meeting on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in March 2018 and to nominate Haftar as Libya's president, the Libyan Express newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying.

Egypt's president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was due to arrive in the UAE on Wednesday to cement the new agreement and give his support for a peaceful solution to Libya's conflict, according to the sources.

The accord includes uniting Libya's myriad of military factions under the command of the Presidential Council headed by Seraj, "fighting terrorism in all of its forms" across the country and reshuffling Seraj's United Nations backed government, according to the leaked document cited by the Libya Observer on its website.

"This agreement will come into effect as soon as its is signed by Seraj and Haftar," the leaked documents said, cited by the Libya Observer.

A statement by the UAE foreign ministry on Wednesday - the first official word on Tuesday's talks - said Haftar and Seraj had achieved "a significant breakthrough" during their encounter.

The statement offered no specifics but described the surprise meeting between the two leaders as "an important step on the road to reaching tangible progress in the political process in Libya".

"The UAE believes that any solution that brings stability to Libya should come from and be supported by the Libyans and should be purely based on Libyan-Libyan dialogue," the foreign ministry said.

The statement urged the international community to prevent further divisions in the fractured country and to "encourage more cooperation among the Libyans" in an apparent dig at Qatar and Turkey which have supported Islamist groups in war-wracked Libya.

Haftar and Seraj's agreement also included reducing the members of the presidency council from nine members currently to three, the Libya Herald daily reported late Tuesday, citing unconfirmed reports.

The new presidency council would include the president, the head of the Tobruk-based parliament (House of Representatives) and the head of Libyan armed forces, the Libya Herald said, quoting the unconfirmed reports.

Other points of the agreement included no foreign interference in the army and security affairs, the dissolution of militias and armed groups, compliance with all ruling by Libya's judiciary and a rejection of migrant resettlement in the North African country, the paper reported.

Over five years after the ousting of late Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the country remains regionally split with rival centres of political power and a myriad of rival armed groups that Libya's two governments in Tripoli and Tobruk are unable to control.

The Tobruk-based parliament in eastern Libya in early March voted to suspend dialogue with the Seraj government. The move came after a militia group captured the eastern oil ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, which had been under the control of Hafar.

The strongman is allied to the administration in Tobruk and enjoys close ties with Russia.

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