Libya rivals agree terms of ceasefire deal: UN

It follows a meeting of a joint military commission opened in Libya on Monday

Members of Libyan joint military commission pose for a group picture in Ghadames, a desert oasis some 465 kilometres (290 miles) southwest of the capital Tripoli, on November 3, 2020.  / AFP / -
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Rival Libyan military officers have agreed on steps towards cementing a ceasefire deal reached last month, UN acting envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams said on Tuesday.

A meeting of a joint military commission to discuss the agreement opened on Monday, on home soil for the first time.

The 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, Ms Williams said.

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

Sirte has been on the front line of recent conflict since mid-June.

The US embassy in Libya welcomed the development and said it was “encouraged that the overwhelming majority of Libyans are working in good faith to seize these historic opportunities for Libya to restore its sovereignty and achieve a brighter future”.

“The embassy stands with those Libyans who reject violence, oppose foreign manipulation, and come together in peaceful and patriotic dialogue,” it said.

The meeting follows a permanent ceasefire agreement signed by the warring factions in Switzerland last month, intended to pave the way towards a political solution to the country’s conflict.

Talks are taking place in the remote desert oasis of Ghadames, about 465 kilometres south-west of the capital Tripoli. It is near Libya’s borders with both Algeria and Tunisia, far from the power base of either side.

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

Libya’s oil production, a vital source of income, has been repeatedly paused as various groups seized and blockaded critical 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 swiftly adopt a binding resolution to implement the Geneva ceasefire agreement, Ms Williams said.

Libya, with Africa’s largest proven crude oil reserves, has been wracked by conflict for nearly a decade, since the removal and killing of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in a Nato-backed uprising in 2011.

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

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

Warring factions returned to the negotiating table in September in UN-supported talks, with negotiations held in Morocco, Egypt and Switzerland.

On November 9, the political leaders are due to hold face-to-face talks in Tunisia.