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Eastern Libya to host conference to rebuild war-ravaged Benghazi

Life has returned in some of Benghazi, though many areas were completely destroyed [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 December, 2017

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A conference is to be held in March to rally support to rebuild Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya which was heavily damaged in the three-year battle against Islamists.
A conference is set to be held in Libya in March to drum up support to rebuild the war-torn country's second city of Benghazi.

The announcement by authorities in eastern Libya is seen as a desire by military strongman General Khalifa Haftar to promote a return to normality in the port, which was heavily damaged during three years of fighting between military forces and Islamist fighters.

Haftar declared the end of a campaign to oust Islamist fighters in July, with his forces reportedly celebrating by exhuming the dead bodies of Benghazi Shura Council fighters, before parading them through town.

Haftar has been accused of personally ordering attacks on civilians, having enforced a 'starve or kneel' policy in the two-year siege of the port city.

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 organisers 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 does not recognise the authority of the UN-backed Government of National Accord based in the capital Tripoli, instead backing an alternate Tobruk-based administration set up in the country's east.

He has steadily emerged as a key player in Libya however, and is backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates among other foreign powers.

The United Nations has sought to bridge differences between the GNA and Haftar's so called LNA, part of a conflict since dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011. Talks were suspended in October.

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