Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday reiterated his country's refusal to hold elections in Libya before achieving an inclusive national reconciliation, stressing that his country does not have any ambitions for domination and expansion in Libya, calling for the need to secure a stable political framework before elections take place in the country.
“Italy’s primary interest is to stabilize Libya and to hold the presidential and political elections with appropriate guarantees. We are in no hurry to have the vote tomorrow, or in November or in December,” Conte told journalists in Rome.
"Libya has strategic importance for Italy, for historical, geographical and political reasons, and the migration routes that cross Libya are concentrated on Italy, so we have a major interest in the relations with the country," he clarified, adding that Italy would stress the importance of its interests during Rome Conference on Libya next November.
The Italian Prime Minister noted that US President Donald Trump, during their meeting in Washington last month, highlighted the importance Italy attaches to Libya, which was demonstrated by the support of the United States for a conference on Libya in Italy.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives has declared Italy's ambassador to Libya, Giuseppe Perrone, persona non grata for alleged statement he made to a Jordan-based Libyan TV in which he was reportedly rejected holding elections without national reconciliation and a constitutional basis.
The Committee, which is influenced by instructions of warlord Khalifa Haftar, called in a statement on Wednesday for expulsion of ambassador Perrone from Libya, regarding his alleged statement about elections as “blatant interference in Libyan internal affairs.”
It also warned that Perrone’s alleged statement “would have a negative impact on the Libyan-Italian relations at the governmental and public levels and would harm Italian interests in Libya.”
The Italian Embassy in Libya denied in a Tweet the alleged statement of its ambassador, saying Perrone confirmed to the Libyan channel that only Libyans can decide when to hold the elections.
Observers see the statement of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives as a double standard because the statement of the Italian ambassador comes in the framework of a clear competition between Italy and France over who takes the leading role in the Libyan crisis, but warlord Haftar’s loyalists, who reject the Italian role, are turning a blind eye to the French interference and Paris’s attempts to bush for elections this year without a constitutional basis, which may result in a new conflict for power.
The Observers also raised questions over the silence of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives about the obvious intervention of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in Libya’s internal affairs and their control of the decision-making process in east Libya camp.
The Committee also turned a deaf ear to the statement made by the spokesman of Haftar, Ahmed Al-Mismari, to Sputnik agency, in which he demanded Russian intervention in Libya to limit the alleged influence of Italy, Qatar and Turkey in Libya.