UN Libya envoy 'optimistic' on ceasefire prospects

Robin MILLARD
·2-min read
Libya has been wracked by conflict since the overthrow and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011
Libya has been wracked by conflict since the overthrow and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011

The UN's Libya envoy said Wednesday she was "quite optimistic" about the prospects of a ceasefire emerging from talks under way in Geneva between the two warring factions in the troubled north African country.

After two days of face-to-face discussions at the United Nations, which are scheduled to last until Saturday, the two sides have agreed to open internal land and air routes.

They also agreed to maintain the current calm on the frontlines and to avoid military escalation, and on moves which should ensure the increase of oil production.

"The two sides have reached agreement on several important issues which directly impact the lives and welfare of the Libyan people," Stephanie Williams, the head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), told a press conference.

"I'm quite optimistic... there is an air of seriousness and commitment," she said on the prospect of a ceasefire.

Libya has been wracked by conflict since the overthrow and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. Rival power centres as well as a myriad of militias are vying for control, while human rights violations are often overlooked.

The two main factions are based around the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli and a parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk, which backs Khalifa Haftar.

The eastern military commander launched an offensive on Tripoli in April 2019.

- 'Real determination' -

Williams said that following last week's first flight in 18 months between Tripoli and Benghazi, a regular schedule of flights between the two main cities in the west and east would resume "towards the end of this week".

And she said the two sides "agreed to the opening of the land routes that connect all the regions and cities of Libya", including the coastal road from Misrata to Sirte.

They further agreed to support efforts towards the exchange of detainees, and on the need to end the use of inflammatory rhetoric.

Williams said there was a "real determination to preserve the country's unity and sovereignty".

She urged the two parties "to solve all outstanding issues and forge a lasting ceasefire agreement.

"We are, in a sense, in a bit of a race against time here, because of the conditions in the country, and frankly because of the degree of flagrant foreign intervention and blatant violations of the arms embargo.

"These are Libyan solutions. It's their country and Libya is for Libyans. That is why I continue to be very optimistic that the parties here are going to reach a more lasting and permanent ceasefire."

The fourth round of the so-called Libyan 5+5 Joint Military Commission talks began on Monday.

The JMC is one of the three intra-Libyan tracks that UNSMIL is working on, along with economic and political lines of work.

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