UN to vote on resolution supporting Libya ceasefire

UK-drafted resolution demands warring parties in Libya commit to a lasting ceasefire without ‘preconditions’.

U.N. Envoy for Libya, Salame holds a news briefing in Geneva
UN envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame said agreements reached in Berlin meeting last week have been violated [File: Denis Balibouse/Reuters]

The United Nations Security Council is set to vote on Wednesday on a resolution that would endorse a 55-point plan for ending the war in Libya and condemn the recent increase in violence.

The British-drafted resolution demands the warring parties “commit to a lasting ceasefire … without preconditions”.

It also insists on full compliance with a UN arms embargo that has been repeatedly broken, as called for in the plan approved by leaders of 12 world powers and other key countries that met on January 19 in Berlin.

It also recalls the commitment of all participants at the Berlin meeting to refrain from interfering in Libya’s conflict and its internal affairs and expresses concern “over the growing involvement of mercenaries in Libya”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last week that the agreement has been repeatedly violated by continuing arms deliveries to the warring parties and escalating fighting. He called the current offensives by rival forces “a scandal”, saying the commitments “apparently were made without a true intention of respecting them”.

Draft resolution calls for permanent ceasefire

Libya has been in turmoil since 2011 when a civil war toppled longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi who was later killed.

A weak UN-recognised administration, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, holds the capital of Tripoli and parts of the country’s west and is backed by Turkey, which recently sent thousands of soldiers to Libya.

On the other side is a rival government in the east that supports self-styled renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces launched an offensive to capture the capital last April and are backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt.

The Tripoli authorities and US officials have accused Haftar of relying on hundreds of Russian mercenaries. Sudanese armed groups from the Darfur region recently joined the fighting on both sides, according to a report by UN experts.

The draft resolution welcomes last week’s ceasefire talks between Libya’s warring sides in Geneva and calls for their continuation “without further delay in order to agree [to] a permanent ceasefire”. It asks Guterres to submit his views on conditions for a ceasefire and proposals for effective monitoring of a truce, with a view to making detailed recommendations when a ceasefire is announced.

The Security Council on Tuesday voted 14-0 with Russia abstaining on a resolution extending the arms embargo, travel ban, asset freeze and other sanctions on Libya and Libyans until April 30, 2021. It also extended the mandate of the UN panel of experts monitoring the implementation of the sanctions until May 15, 2021.

The draft resolution condemns attempts to illicitly export oil and refined petroleum products from Libya and it asks the UN experts to report on illicit exports or imports to Libya of petroleum, including crude oil and refined petroleum products. Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia objected to the reference to oil imports.

Reports of Tripoli shelling

Meanwhile, there were reports that artillery shells on Tuesday hit the centre of the Libyan capital, which Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) forces have been trying to take in a near year-long war.

Shells landed late at night in the central Nouflin and Souq al-Jumaa districts, which had been mostly spared so far from the conflict, according to Reuters News Agency.

Parts of the capital were plunged into darkness as power failed.

There was no immediate word on casualties from authorities and no more details available. According to the UN, the war has displaced some 150,000 people.

Source: News Agencies