Libya’s two rival factions signed a “permanent” ceasefire agreement Friday after five days of talks hosted by the United Nations, which hailed the move as a moment that would go down in history.
“Today is a good day for the Libyan people,” said Stephanie Williams, the UN’s envoy to the troubled North African country, where a UN-recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli, headed by Prime Minister Hayez al-Sarraj, has been battling the so-called Libyan National Army led by Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar.
“At 11:15 am (0915 GMT) this morning here at the UN headquarters in Geneva, the two Libyan delegations… signed a complete, countrywide and permanent ceasefire agreement with immediate effect,” she said.
“The agreement was facilitated by the United Nations and we signed it as witnesses,” she told a news conference in the Swiss city.
Acting UN head of UN mission in Libya, Stephanie Williams, hailed the agreement as “an important turning point”, but some analysts expressed doubts that it could be implemented on the ground. Under its terms, all foreign fighters must leave within three months, and a new joint police force will aim to secure the peace. The ceasefire was due to start immediately..
Libya has been wracked by conflict for nearly a decade since the overthrow and killing of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011. Since then, the North African country has been dominated by armed groups, riven by local conflicts and divided between the two bitterly opposed administrations.
The conflict between al-Sarraj and Haftar is over political power in Libya, which has tilted to the side of the latter, with the Tripoli-based UN-recognised government controlling only a small region around the capital while Haftar forces, based in the eastern city of Tobruk, has already established its control over 2/3 of the vast country.
But hopes for a solution have risen after the two warring factions in August separately announced they would cease hostilities. However, both sides continue to accuse each other of supporting “terrorist” groups.
An earlier agreement signed by 16 states and organizations including the UN, EU, African Union, Germany, France, Italy, UK, Russia and Turkey, at a conference in Berlin in January agreed to uphold a UN arms embargo against all sides to the Libya conflict. Analysts believe that the success of the new agreement depends on the support of the major international actorss in the war, including Turkey, Russia, Egypt and UAE.