Tripoli, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- Libya’s two rival governments, which have been fighting for power since 2015, on Friday simultaneously announced a ceasefire that is due to take effect next week.
The announcement, signed by both the head of the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), Prime Minister Fayez al Serraj, and General Khalifa Haftar, who controls large swathes of Libya’s east and south and is supported by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, was welcomed by the international community.
The country has been ravaged by civil war since the death of former president Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
A UN weapons embargo has been in place ever since, but it has had little effect in stopping the bloodshed.
The UN’s special envoy for Libya, Stephanie Williams, called on “all parties to rise to this historic occasion and shoulder their full responsibilities before the Libyan people.”
Egypt’s president, Abdelfattah al Sisi, also praised the announcement of the truce, calling it an “important step on the road to achieving a political settlement” and “restore stability and prosperity in Libya”.
In the last 15 months, more than 1,800 people — including 400 civilians — have died while more than 20,000 have been wounded. Over 150,000 people have been internally displaced after being forced to flee their homes.
Both sides have kept their forces stationed along the strategically significant Gulf of Sirte, which lies at the heart of Libya’s petroleum industry, since troops affiliated with the GNA, backed by thousands of Syrian mercenaries sent by Turkey, regained control of the capital city Tripoli in June and pushed back forces under General Haftar’s command.
Earlier this week, a local militia backing Haftar announced that it was lifting the blockade on the production and export of crude oil that had been in place since February, restarting the flow of electricity to Libyan businesses and homes.
Before the revolution that led to the ouster and death of ex-dictator Gaddafi in 2011, Libya produced around 1.8 billion barrels of crude oil per day, compared to just 100,000 per day it is currently producing. EFE