Libya’s UN-backed government calls for immediate ceasefire

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LIBYA

Libya’s UN recognized government on Friday called on its allied forces to comply with an immediate truce in the country, and called for elections to be conducted in 2021.

The Prime Minister of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Serraj, said he had instructed the forces to halt all combat operations across Libya.

The announcement comes more than two months after fighters allied with the GNA government regained control of several areas close to Tripoli, foiling a long-running campaign by rival warlord Khalifa Haftar to seize the city.

So far, there has been no direct comment from Haftar, the commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army.

Al-Serraj added in his online statement that the ultimate aim of the truce is to impose “full sovereignty over the Libyan territory and the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries.”

Oil-wealthy Libya has been in turmoil since a 2011 revolt toppled long-time dictator Moamer Gaddafi. It has become a battleground for rival proxy forces.

Haftar is supported by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, while the GNA has the backing of Turkey and Qatar.

Al-Serraj on Friday called for turning the strategic cities of Sirte and al-Jufra, currently under the control of Haftar’s forces, into demilitarized zones.

He also proposed presidential and parliamentary elections in Libya in March.

Agila Saleh, the head of Libya’s elected parliament, which is allied with Haftar, backed the call for an immediate cessation of military hostilities.

“The ceasefire blocks any foreign military intervention in the country and leads to the departure of foreign forces and dismantling militias,” Saleh said in a statement.

He also voiced backing for long-delayed elections.

Libya’s UN mission welcomed what it called “points of agreement” in the statements of al-Serraj and Saleh, including a call for resuming the production and export of oil, the country’s main source of income.

In recent months, Haftar’s loyalists have blocked oil facilities in the country.

Acting UN envoy for Libya Stephanie Williams said on Friday that the statements by al-Serraj and Saleh demonstrate courage, “which Libya is in urgent need of.”

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, meanwhile, hailed the call for a ceasefire in neighbouring Libya.

“This is an important step on the road to fulfil a political settlement and the Libyan people’s aspirations for re-establishing stability and prosperity,” he added on his official Twitter account.

In June, al-Sissi threatened military intervention in Libya amid tensions about Turkey’s role in the North African country. (NAN)

– Aug. 21, 2020 @ 20:23 GMT |

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