Libyan leaders call for ceasefire

The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) welcomes the statements issued today by Libya’s Prime Minister, Mr Faiez Serraj, and the Head of Parliament, Mr Aghila Saleh, calling for a nationwide ceasefire and an end to the build-up of military forces in the central regions of Sirte and Jufra.

Mr Serraj, head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, and Mr Saleh, President of the House of Representatives based in eastern Libya, are leading figures in Libya’s current conflict. Their call for Sirte to be demilitarised and for renewed dialogue between the warring parties represents a glimmer of hope after more than a year of violent conflict, since the offensive launched on Tripoli in April 2019.

The two leaders also called for the resumption of operations in Libya’s oil fields and ports on the condition that the revenues are temporarily held in a Libyan foreign account until a political agreement has been reached on their distribution. Libya relies heavily on oil exports, which have been severely disrupted by the conflict over the last year. The manner in which the revenues from the oil exports are distributed is a source of tension in the country and one of the factors driving the ongoing conflict.

Foreign interference and the presence of foreign forces and mercenaries have been additional factors contributing to the latest escalation. However, in their separate statements, the Prime Minister and Head of Parliament denounced this development, and declared their intention to “restore full national sovereignty over Libyan territory.”

The call for a ceasefire comes at a crucial moment in Libya’s struggle to address the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 cases have increased dramatically in recent weeks, amid concerns that the country’s divisions and conflict were hindering efforts to contain the situation.

The United Nations Acting Special Representative of the Secretary General to Libya, Stephanie Williams, praised the statements. “It’s a breakthrough moment,” said Ms. Williams. “For the first time since this war started last April, we have Libyan leaders working together to call for peace. We have real hope for a peaceful solution for the Libyan crisis.”

While wholeheartedly welcoming the agreement, David Harland, HD’s Executive Director, sounded a cautionary note, stating that “much work remains to be done in order to ensure that these commitments are respected by all sides, and the momentum seen today is used to bring us towards a sustainable and inclusive political settlement.” HD will remain engaged in order to continue to promote dialogue between all parties to the conflict and work towards an end to the Libyan crisis.

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