December 30, 2019 / 12:52 PM / 2 months ago

Turkey fast-tracks bill to deploy troops to Libya

ANKARA (Reuters) - The Turkish government is sending to parliament on Monday a bill mandating the deployment of troops to Libya, said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, accelerating a high-stakes plan that Ankara outlined last week.

Last week, President Tayyip Erdogan said his government would seek parliamentary consent to deploy troops to Libya after Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) requested support. The GNA is fending off an offensive by Khalifa Haftar’s forces in the east of the North African country.

Erdogan had said on Thursday the bill would pass around Jan. 8-9.

But Cavusoglu, after meeting with Turkish opposition leaders to seek support for the legislation, told reporters the bill would be submitted to parliament later on Monday.

“As the Foreign Ministry, we presented the mandate to the Presidency for it to be sent to the parliament. And as of today, we have learned from the President’s office that the mandate will be sent to parliament with the signature of the Honourable President within the day,” Cavusoglu said.

Earlier on Monday, Turkey’s main opposition party said after talks with Cavusoglu that it opposes the bill, arguing that such a move would exacerbate the country’s conflict and cause it to spread across the region.

Cavusoglu later met with the opposition Iyi Party, which he said would evaluate the bill.

Ankara has already sent military supplies to the GNA despite a United Nations embargo, according to a U.N. report seen by Reuters last month, and has said it will continue to support the GNA. Haftar’s forces have received support from Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathan Spicer

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