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Libya: UN welcomes ceasefire

Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs in Libya, Stephanie Williams on 16 February, 2020 in Munich, Germany [Abdulhamid Hoşbaş/Anadolu Agency]
Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs in Libya, Stephanie Williams on 16 February, 2020 in Munich, Germany [Abdulhamid Hoşbaş/Anadolu Agency]

The United Nations welcomed the Libyan parties' decision to cease fire and activate the political process.

This came according to a statement by Stephanie Williams, deputy head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) for political affairs, commenting on simultaneous statements by both the head of the presidential council of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Al-Sarraj, and speaker of the Tobruk Parliament, Aguila Saleh.

Williams welcomed the points of accord mentioned in the statements issued by Al-Sarraj and Saleh, agreeing that it: "Constitutes a courageous decision of which Libya is in dire need during these difficult times."

Her statement added that this joint initiative: "Gives hope again to finding a political and peaceful solution to the protracted Libyan crisis" to achieve the will of the Libyan people to live in peace and dignity.

Williams expressed hope that: "The two statements' call for a ceasefire would speed up the implementation of the agreements of the Joint Military Committee (5+5), and start the deportation of all foreign militias and mercenaries present on the Libyan soil."

The UN official called for: "The urgent and rapid implementation of the call made by the two leaders to lift the blockade on oil production and export, and to implement the financial instructions mentioned in the two statements."

She stressed that: "Continuing to deprive the Libyan people of their oil wealth is a form of unacceptable intransigence that is rejected locally and internationally."

Williams urged all parties to: "Rise to the level of this historical moment and fully assume their responsibilities before the Libyan people."

READ: Libya's Tripoli-based government and a rival parliament take steps to end hostilities

Earlier Friday, the Libyan government announced an immediate ceasefire across the country, calling for presidential and parliamentary elections next March.

Meanwhile, Saleh called in a simultaneous statement for an immediate armistice and for Sirte to be the temporary headquarters for the new Presidential Council.

Chairman of the High Council of State, Khalid Al-Mishri, announced on Wednesday his eagerness to meet with Saleh in Morocco, as part of the efforts made by Rabat to resolve the Libyan crisis.

These developments come about two months after the conflict in the governorates of Sirte (north) and Jufra (central). The US and Germany called for the transformation of the area into a demilitarized zone with the opening of oil fields and ports.

Last June, the Libyan army liberated most of the western region from the militias of General Khalifa Haftar and foreign mercenaries.

Bloody Haftar - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Bloody Haftar – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Haftar's militia, supported by Arab and European countries, launched an attack against Tripoli on 4 April, 2019, which resulted in civilian injuries and deaths as well as massive destruction. However, Western forces incurred extensive losses after the national army intervened amid widespread calls for dialogue and a political solution to the worsening crisis.

For years, Libya has witnessed armed conflict, as Haftar's forces, supported by Arab and Western countries, contested the internationally recognized Libyan government over legitimacy and authority in the oil-rich country.

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