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Libya: GNA, Haftar delegations agree to hold elections in 18 months

In Sirte, the warring parties are considering withdrawing their forces as part of the truce, according to Acting UN Envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams

The two parties to the Libyan conflict have reached a preliminary agreement to hold elections in 18 months.

In Sirte, the warring parties are considering withdrawing their forces as part of the truce, according to Acting United Nations (UN) Envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams, who stated that the agreement was reached during the round of talks held in Tunisia.

On Thursday in Sirte, a Joint Military Commission formed by the two Libyan rivals will discuss the details of the truce and the process of withdrawing forces from the fighting fronts.

The UN official confirmed that representatives from different parts of Libya: "Reached a preliminary roadmap to end the transitional period and hold a free, fair, inclusive and credible presidential and parliamentary elections."

The negotiations taking place in Tunisia aim to create a plan to form an interim government assigned to organise elections and provide services in a country that has been devastated by war for years.

Libya official: 'Sirte completely cleared of troops'

Williams stressed the need to move forward with holding general elections that must be: "Transparent and based on full respect for freedom of expression and assembly."

Parallel to the talks hosted in Tunisia, military negotiations are taking place in Libya to complete a historic ceasefire agreement reached in October.

Several armed factions deployed in Libya are affiliated with two main camps: the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and a parallel authority in the east backed by the influential field marshal, General Khalifa Haftar.

The UN chose 75 candidates who pledged not to participate in the upcoming government, to represent the political, military and social fabric of the country, in a move that sparked criticism of the process and questioned its credibility.

Meanwhile, continuous meetings of the Joint Military Commission, including senior leaders of Haftar's forces and the GNA, are taking place in Sirte.

The assassination of Libyan lawyer and human rights activist Hanan Al-Barassi in Benghazi, in broad daylight by unknown gunmen, was the main subject of Wednesday's meetings.

Prominent activist killed in eastern Libya

Williams expressed: "The tragedy of the activist's death exposed the threats facing Libyan women who dare to speak out."

The UN official conveyed regret over the "liability crisis" in Libya, and demanded punishment for the killers of Al-Barassi, while refusing to comment on whether her assassination was linked to the talks.

Williams concluded that "there will be obstructions by those who resist change," noting that: "The majority of Libyans want to restore their sovereignty and the legitimacy of their institutions."

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