Rival factions in Libya agree on implementation of ceasefire deal

The UN says the two sides have agreed on a plan for implementing a ceasefire deal reached last month.

Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Political Affairs in Libya Stephanie Williams attends talks between rival Libya factions at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland October 20, 2020 [Fabrice Coffrini/Pool/Reuters] (Reuters)

Libya’s rival military factions have agreed on a plan for implementing a ceasefire deal reached last month, the United Nations’ acting envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams has said.

The announcement on Tuesday came one day after a meeting of a joint military commission to discuss the implementation of the deal opened on home soil for the first time.

Talks between the rival Libyan factions at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland October 20, 2020 [Fabrice Coffrini/PoolReuters]

The meeting followed a “permanent” ceasefire agreement signed by the warring factions in Switzerland last month, intended to pave the way towards a political solution to the conflict.

Translation: In the presence of the UN secretary-general’s acting envoy to Libya, Stephanie Williams, the joint military commission ends its meeting in Ghadames and agrees on practical steps towards implementing a permanent ceasefire agreement in Libya.

A major oil producer, Libya has been wracked by violence since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 overthrew and killed longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.

It has since been dominated by armed groups and divided between two bitterly opposed administrations: the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital Tripoli, and a rival administration in the east, backed by renegade military commander, Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar, backed by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive on Tripoli in April 2019 but was beaten back in June by the GNA with military support from Turkey.

The warring factions returned to the negotiating table in September in UN-supported talks held in Morocco, Egypt and Switzerland.

The latest talks are taking place in the remote desert oasis of Ghadames, some 465km (290 miles) southwest of Tripoli and near Libya’s borders with Algeria and Tunisia – far from the power bases of either side.

In the meeting, the two sides agreed to “establish a military subcommittee to oversee the withdrawal of military forces to their respective bases and the departure of foreign forces from the front lines,” Williams said.

The commission also decided to “meet in Sirte as soon as possible” and make the central coastal city its headquarters, Williams added.

Sirte has been on the front line of recent conflict since June this year.

Williams said a meeting on reunifying the Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG) will be held on November 16 at the Brega terminal, while air links would be restored “immediately” with Ghadames and with Sebha in the south.

Libya’s oil production, a vital source of income, has been repeatedly halted as various groups seized and blockaded key installations and export terminals.

The Guards, under the control of Libya’s defence ministry before the country’s 2011 revolution, have since morphed into armed groups with shifting allegiances.

The commission also urged the UN Security Council to “quickly adopt a binding resolution to implement the Geneva ceasefire agreement”, Williams added.

The talks in Ghadames are part of long-running efforts to broker peace.

On November 9, Libya’s political leaders are due to hold face-to-face talks in Tunisia to discuss holding national elections.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies