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World Libya: concrete measures to end the crisis, the UN "fairly" optimistic

22:25  21 october  2020
22:25  21 october  2020 Source:   liberation.fr

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The parties to the conflict in Libya have agreed in Geneva to reopen the main land routes and internal air links, the first concrete measures announced Wednesday by the UN which said it was cautiously optimistic about a lasting ceasefire in the country.

Plunged into chaos since the fall in 2011 of Muammar Gaddafi's regime, Libya is today torn between two rival powers: the Government of National Unity (GNA), recognized by the UN and based in Tripoli, and the Eastern authorities allied with Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

L'envoyée spéciale de l'ONU pour la Libye se déclare © Provided by AFP The UN Special Envoy for Libya says she is "quite optimistic" about the possibility of a lasting ceasefire in this war-torn country, after two days of negotiations opposite face to face in Geneva between the conflicting parties.

In recent weeks, the interlibyan negotiations have accelerated and a new session of the joint Libyan military commission, which must also define the conditions for a lasting ceasefire, has been continuing since Monday in Geneva.

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Stephanie Williams, cheffe par intérim de la Mission d'appui de l'ONU en Libye (Manul), s'exprime à Genève le 21 octobre 2020 © Fabrice COFFRINI Stephanie Williams, Acting Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (Manul), speaks in Geneva on October 21, 2020

Stephanie Williams, Acting Head of the Support Mission of the UN in Libya (Manul), declared itself "quite optimistic" that the negotiators would reach "a more lasting and permanent ceasefire".

She announced to the press agreements on several concrete measures decided by the belligerents, such as "the opening of land routes linking all regions and cities of Libya", with "joint security arrangements".

For the population, exhausted by the fighting and divisions, it is a glimmer of hope that will allow families to be able to reunite after months of forced separation.

After an offensive launched between April 2019 and June 2020 by the pro-Haftar to seize, in vain, Tripoli, the main land routes were cut between the cities of the East and the West and air links interruptions.

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- "Impact" -

The fighting has left hundreds of people dead and tens of thousands of people flee.

Friday, the national company Afriqiyah Airways made a symbolic first flight between Tripoli and Benghazi, the second city located some 1,000 km further east. A first Tripoli-Benghazi flight carrying passengers is scheduled for Friday.

Ms. Williams hailed "important decisions" for reopening roads, resuming flights, facilitating access to vital services, especially in the long overdue South.

These decisions "will have a direct and concrete impact on the lives of Libyans", at a time when "the socio-economic conditions are deteriorating and, of course, the Covid-19 pandemic is increasing exponentially in the country" -she adds.

Libyan analyst Mohamed Eljarh believes that the military side of the talks is "the most important". Without such an agreement, "all political negotiations and diplomatic efforts will be in vain."

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Marshal Haftar exercises "better control" than the GNA over the armed groups under his authority, Mr. Eljarh told AFP. "Therefore, there will always be a pitfall in the implementation of any agreement."

- Oil -

The two sides also agreed to increase oil production, asking, according to Williams, their commanders "to work with the representative of the National Oil Corporation (NOC, the public company) to propose a restructuring of the guards of the oil installations ".

Traditionally under the authority of the Ministry of Defense, these guards have become members of armed groups of changing allegiances.

Since the lifting in September of the blockade imposed by the pro-Haftar on these sites, oil production in Libya, which has the most abundant oil reserves in Africa, has resumed and is growing significantly.

Khalifa Haftar had agreed to lift the blockade on condition of obtaining an equitable sharing of oil revenues. The lockdown since January has caused more than $ 9.8 billion (€ 8.2 billion) in lost revenue, according to the NOC.

Also in this context of appeasement, Ms. Williams said that the two camps had agreed to "put an end to hate rhetoric" in the media and on social networks, to work for a maintenance of calm on the front line and to support efforts for the release of prisoners.

For the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, three factors are now united to "crystallize" towards a process favorable to the search for peace in Libya.

"There is first a truce", he said Wednesday, also welcoming the "lifting of the blockade of the oil terminals" and the "interlibyan political forum", which meets again in early November in Tunis.

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A dozen bodies found in new Libya mass graves: Committee .
The bodies unearthed in the Tarhuna region from where eastern forces launched an aborted assault last year.“Four new sites have been discovered, two of them mass graves and two individual graves, in Tarhuna … and unidentified bodies have been exhumed,” the committee tasked by the United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) to search for missing people said on its Facebook page on Wednesday.

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