Libyan rivals sign ‘permanent’ ceasefire

FILE PHOTO: People are seen at Martyrs' Square in Tripoli, Libya January 16, 2020. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

Libya’s two rival governments have signed a “permanent” ceasefire following mediation talks in Geneva spearheaded by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

The talks involved the 5+5 Joint Military Commission, which consists of five senior military officers chosen by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord and another five chosen by the Libyan National Army, which is loyal to the Tobruk-based House of Representatives. The commission was established earlier this year in a bid to resolve the ongoing Libyan civil war.

A 14-month siege of Tripoli had ended unsuccessfully in June, and the GNA advanced on LNA-held territory before a ceasefire was announced in August amid fears of an escalation. Following the talks in Geneva, this ceasefire is now pledged to be a permanent one.

The news was welcomed by UNSMIL chief Stephanie Williams, who said that the agreement could help secure “a better, safer and more peaceful future for all the Libyan people.”

“The road was long and difficult at times, but your patriotism has been your guide all the time, and you have succeeded in concluding an agreement for a successful and lasting ceasefire,” Williams maintained, addressing representatives of the two sides.

She highlighted that there was still much work ahead to implement the commitments contained in the agreements, adding that it was important to sort these out as possible. She pledged that the UN would do its utmost to ensure that the international community lent its full support to Libya as the process went on.

Agreement ‘welcomed wholeheartedly’ by Malta

As one might expect, the development was welcomed wholeheartedly by the Maltese government, which has long argued in favour of a peaceful solution which would bring about a unified Libya.

The Foreign Ministry said that the permanent ceasefire and the two parties’ commitments were an important step to building confidence and achieving peace and stability in the North African country.

“The implementation and enforcement process is imperative to ensure this ceasefire’s success and, in this regard, we highlight the need for all Libyans and the international community to support the ceasefire agreement,” the ministry said. “In this spirit, Malta looks forward to the convening of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum and reiterates the importance of a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned process in ensuring a successful political transition.”