UN Libya envoy expresses optimism

The United Nations’ acting envoy to Libya said she was “quite optimistic” that ongoing talks between the warring sides would lead to a lasting ceasefire, after they agreed to reopen land and air routes across front lines.

Speaking midway through marathon talks, Stephanie Williams said the sides had also agreed to maintain “the current state of calm on the front lines and avoid any military escalation”.

“After two days of the first face-to-face direct talks between the two Libyan delegations to the 5+5 Joint Military Commission, which have been marked by a great degree of patriotism and professionalism and insistence on maintaining Libya’s unity and defending the country’s sovereignty, I am pleased to report that the two sides have reached agreement on several important issues which directly impact the lives and welfare of the Libyan people, namely” the statement reads.

“That is why I continue to be very optimistic that the parties here are going to reach a more lasting and permanent ceasefire,” she told a news conference at the U.N. in Geneva.

The first flights between Tripoli Airport and the main eastern city Benghazi would resume this week, and the sides had agreed to make progress on an exchange of detainees, Williams has underlined.

This year, the conflict has aggravated due to support of foreign powers. The Tripoli Government of National Accord administration (GNA), with backing from Turkey, halted a 14-month assault by Haftar’s Libyan National Army to take control over the capital with the backing of Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Foreign countries involved in the conflict “need to take their hands off of Libya”, Williams warned. Both parties have previously agreed that after a lasting ceasefire agreement is reached, all foreign forces and mercenaries must withdraw within three months, under U.N. supervision, the envoy has underlined.

Libyan oil output resumed in August after an eight-month blockade by the LNA, but the state producer, the National Oil Corporation (NOC), has underlined that the risks are imposed by a force that guards oil sites. Williams said the sides had agreed to delegate commanders from both east and west to work with the NOC on a proposal to restructure the guards to ensure oil flow.

An announcement by GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj that he intends to step down by the end of this month “should help end the long period of transition” and move towards a democratically elected government, she said.

This week’s meeting between GNA-Tripoli and LNA-Benghazi military negotiators in Geneva will be followed by a political dialogue in Tunis from November 9, Williams informed.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. At present the East Libyan authoritity – the Tobruk parliament backed by the Libyan National Army, led by Marshall Khaftar – does not recognise the status of Tripoli administration of Al-Sarraj. They repeatedly underlined in various statesments that the Shkirat Agreement (December 17,2015, Morocco), which has given a mandate for one year to the reconciliation goverment in Tripoli, has been expired a long time ago. They reiterated, that the result of this failure to realised the mandate within one year led to the «unconstitutional» status of the Tripoli government, while the status of the Tobruk parliament has been recognised the UN Security Council as the Libya sole legislator.

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