Libya’s warring sides agree to permanent ceasefire - U.N.
(Updated with video of U.N. envoy's statement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's statement in fifth paragraph)
Libya’s warring sides signed an agreement for a permanent ceasefire in all areas of the country on Friday, the United Nations said, bringing a possible end to a year-long battle for the capital Tripoli and a political-level compromise.
The agreement concluded in Geneva after talks between military representatives of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and rebel General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), the news agency said. Political discussions are expected to start next month in Tunisia, it said.
“The road was long and difficult at times. Your patriotism was your way forward and you were able to reach a ceasefire agreement,” U.N. acting Libya envoy Stephanie Williams said after the signing ceremony, according to a video posted on the Facebook page of United Nations Support Mission in Libya.
GNA forces, backed by Turkish military support, had repelled Haftar’s 14-month-long offensive to capture Tripoli, stabilising frontlines since July. Haftar is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia, among other countries.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the settlement was not a ceasefire at the “highest echelons” and questioned “putschist” Haftar’s credibility in talks.
"Time will tell whether the ceasefire will be permanent," he said in televised comments after Friday prayers in Istanbul, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency.
Previous diplomatic efforts to resolve the Libyan civil war have failed because numerous armed factions were battling for control of cities and state institutions, Reuters said.
The ceasefire agreement is a “good continuation of the mood of progress, optimism and settlement”, Tarek Megerisi, a policy fellow with the North Africa and Middle East programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told the British news agency.
“But there is still no clear sign that Libyan belligerents are looking at this as anything other than a period of posturing and positioning to ensure they can dominate the next round of Libya’s transitional politics,” he said.