Middle East

Eastern Libya to stage conference in March to rebuild Benghazi

Authorities in eastern Libya have announced a conference in March to drum up support to rebuild the country’s second-largest city Benghazi heavily damaged during three years of fighting between military forces and Islamist fighters.

The announcement signals a desire to demonstrate a return to normality in the port, where top military commander Khalifa Haftar declared the end of a campaign to oust Islamist fighters in July.

Clashes have sporadically continued in some isolated areas, while life has returned in the rest of the city, though some districts were almost completely destroyed by shelling and air strikes.

A forum titled “International Conference and Exhibition for rebuilding Benghazi city” will be held from March 19-21, the organizers said in an invitation posted online, adding that a six-day exhibition would be held the same month.

Haftar is aligned with a government and parliament in eastern Libya which was listed as the conference’s sponsor.

He has rejected a UN-backed government based in the capital, Tripoli, as he has gradually strengthened his position on the ground.

The United Nations has sought to bridge differences between the two sides, part of a conflict since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011. Talks were suspended in October.

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