World, Middle East

Libya’s warring sides sign ‘permanent’ cease-fire deal

UN special envoy, African Union Commission chair welcome signing of cease-fire agreement in Geneva

Peter Kenny   | 23.10.2020
Libya’s warring sides sign ‘permanent’ cease-fire deal


The UN special envoy on Libya announced Friday the signing of a "permanent" cease-fire agreement between delegations of Libya’s warring parties.

Stephanie Turco Williams, who heads the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said in Geneva that the Libyan sides reached agreement for a truce with immediate effect in all areas of the country.

"Today is a good day for the Libyan people," Williams told a news conference after the deal was signed.

"At 11:15 a.m. this morning, here in the UN headquarters in Geneva, the two Libyan delegations to the 5+5 joint military commission talks signed a complete countrywide and permanent cease-fire agreement with immediate effect."

As the parties signed the agreement, the UNSMIL released a statement, saying: "Good news for Libyans."

"The 5+5 Joint Military Commission talks in Geneva today culminate in a historic achievement as Libyan teams reach a permanent cease-fire agreement across Libya. This achievement is an important turning point towards peace and stability in Libya."

Libya's Government of National Accord was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement have failed due to a military offensive by forces loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar.

The UN recognizes Fayez al-Sarraj's government as the country's legitimate authority, but efforts for a long-term political settlement have failed due to a military offensive by forces loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar. Tripoli has battled Haftar's militias since April 2019 in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives. 

‘History guides us’

Asked why this time the accord might hold after earlier cease-fire agreements faltered, the UN official said both sides had signed the cease-fire on Friday, including Haftar, who had balked at signing one in Moscow this January.

"They signed the agreement today, they signed an agreement," she said.

"Again, I think, you know, history always guides us and the history of Libya, particularly over the last nine years, and certainly even before that has been quite fraught. But we shouldn't let the cynics win."

"The parties agreed that all military units and armed groups on the front lines shall return to their camps," said Williams.

There will also be the "departure of all mercenaries and foreign fighters from all Libyan territories" – land, air, and sea – within a maximum period of three months from Friday.

The 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission's work, the security track, is one of the three intra-Libyan tracks on which the UNSMIL held talks again from Monday to bring peace.

"The international community must also do its part by fully respecting and supporting this Libyan-Libyan cease-fire agreement, which was reached under the authority of Security Council Resolution 2510 and the outcomes of the Berlin Conference," in January, said the UN envoy.

The parties agreed to establish a mechanism to monitor jointly with the UNSMIL the implementation of the cease-fire agreement.

Williams also said a flight went from Libya’s capital Tripoli to the coastal city of Benghazi earlier Friday, and there was a regular resumption now of flights between the two cities.

She added that there were good indications that the oil installations of Ra's Lanuf and Sidra will be ready to resume production soon.

African Union

Earlier in the week, Williams said: "On the political front, the UNSMIL is in final stages of preparations for the launch of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, with the virtual preparatory meeting to take place on Oct. 26 and the in-person meeting to take place in Tunis on Nov. 9."

The signatory parties requested the UNSMIL to forward the cease-fire agreement to the UN Security Council and request that the council adopt a resolution to ensure compliance of all internal and external parties.

For his part, African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat hailed the agreement, calling on all parties “to respect the letter and spirit of this important development.”

“The Libyan people deserve a permanent respite from conflict in order to begin the process of reconciliation & peace-building in the country,” Mahamat tweeted.

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