Libya Officially Boycotts Beirut Summit, Mulls 'Severing' Tiesإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Libya has officially decided to boycott Beirut's upcoming Arab economic summit, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj confirmed on Monday afternoon, a day after AMAL Movement supporters removed Libyan flags and addressed insults to Libya near the summit's venue.
"We have been forced to boycott this summit and refuse to participate in its work" because Lebanon was unable to guarantee "the appropriate climate" for it, the Libyan foreign ministry meanwhile said in a statement.
The U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) for its part said the Lebanese government had failed to prevent the attack on Libya's flag.
The GNA also asked Lebanon "for a quick explanation of its position."
Earlier in the day, Libya’s High Council of State demanded the severing of ties with Lebanon on the grounds of “insulting the flag,” noting that these acts “do not represent the Lebanese people,” media reports said.
The statement of the Council of State called on the Arab League to take a clear stance on this incident and to “exclude Lebanon from any Arab event until the Lebanese authorities assume their responsibility and abide by diplomatic norms.”
Spokesperson of the Libyan Foreign Ministry, Ahmed Alarbed, announced earlier that Libya would not partake at any level in the Economic and Social Development summit to be held in Beirut on January 19-20, noting that the seat of the State of Libya will remain “vacant.”
On Sunday, supporters of the AMAL Movement replaced a Libyan flag with their movement’s flag near the Seaside Arena venue in Beirut in protest at the invitation of Libya to the summit. They also removed another flag in the Zaytunay Bay area.
Tensions have surged in recent days over the issue of Libya’s participation.
AMAL accuses the former regime of slain Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi of kidnapping its revered founder Imam Moussa al-Sadr during a visit to Libya in 1978.
The case has strained Libyan-Lebanese ties for the past four decades and in recent days the invitation and talk of the possibility of freeing Gadhafi’s son Hannibal from Lebanese prisons have deepened tensions between AMAL and the Free Patriotic Movement.