France steps up support for Libya’s democratic transition in a confident diplomatic statement of intent.
The reopening on Monday of the French embassy in Tripoli was hailed as a powerful show of support for Libya’s nascent unity government.
The embassy announced the move on Twitter sharing selfies of its diplomats in front of the compound, including Ambassador Béatrice Le Fraper du Hellen and the defence attaché colonel Thomas Billard, captioned: “The reopening of the French embassy in Tripoli, 29 Mar 21. To work!”
The move came one week after a meeting at the Elysée Palace between President Emmanuel Macron and Libya’s incoming head of state, Muhammed al-Menfi, during which the French leader pledged to reopen the embassy soon to make up for a “debt to Libya and the Libyans for a decade of disorder”.
The Libyan unity government, which enjoys unprecedented support from most Libyan components, including Misrata, Cyrenaica and Fezzan, chose Paris as its first stop in a series of regional courtesy state visits.
Moderates, liberals and seculars in Libya and beyond look to a more active engagement from France to counterbalance a perceived pro-Islamsit Anglo Saxon-Turkish alliance across North Africa and the Sahel region.
On Sunday, president Macron indicated making an encouraging first step during a telephone conversation with his Egyptian counterpart where he praised Egypt’s constructive role in Libya and hailed Cairo’s prominent weight across Africa, the Arab World, and the Mediterranean region.
On the ground, Ambassador Le Fraper du Hellen, went straight to work holding several meetings with officials and civil society activists. Yesterday, she attended an event marking the French language day which was organised by the association of French language teachers in Libya. Today, she attended a ceremony celebrating the return of the head of Faustina Minor to Tripoli’s national museum and visited Tripoli’s chambre of commerce.
The embassy was closed in 2013 following a terrorist car bombing that caused significant damage to its building.