Libyans propose ceasefire, slam international inaction
GENEVA, Switzerland – Libya's warring sides have hashed out a draft ceasefire agreement, the UN said Monday, February 24, even as Libyan leaders decried international inaction to rein in hostilities still raging in the war-ravaged country.
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) announced that two rounds of indirect negotiations in Geneva between Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) and eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar's forces had resulted in a draft ceasefire deal.
The text, which will now be discussed by the leadership on both sides, proposes that the United Nations and a military commission with members from both sides monitor the safe return of displaced civilians to their homes.
The UN said the sides would meet again next month to discuss implementation terms, but given the state of hostility between the sides, prospects for a lasting truce remain unclear.
The head of Libya's UN-recognized GNA government, Fayez al-Sarraj, slammed Haftar before the UN on Monday as a "war criminal", and decried international inaction to halt the violence.
"The entire world has been able to see the escalation in hostilities and attacks against the capital Tripoli since April 4, 2019," Sarraj told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
But he lamented that despite large numbers of people killed and displaced by Haftar's actions, "until today, we have not seen action by the international community."
In the latest outbreak of fighting, Haftar launched his offensive on Tripoli last April but after rapid advances his forces stalled on the outskirts of the capital.
The fighting has claimed more than 1,000 lives and displaced some 140,000, according to the UN, while GNA says the numbers are far higher.
"We have repeatedly asked that commissions of inquiry be established to investigate the violations, the forced displacements, the arbitrary detentions, the extrajudicial killings," Sarraj said.
GNA foreign minister Mohamed Taha Syala meanwhile voiced particular criticism about international inaction to force an end to Haftar's oil blockade, warning of the dire humanitarian consequences of cutting off the country's main source of income.
The international community, he said, must "instruct opening the oil fields and opening the ports to feed the Libyan people."
He told reporters in Geneva that major powers had acted quickly to force an end to a previous attempt by Haftar to blockade Libya's oil, but that today there seemed to be less interest in boosting oil supplies on the global market.
"I know they don't want the prices in the market to drop by putting in the market around one million barrels," he said, suggesting that "maybe this is behind the reason" for the international inaction.
"If it is the reason, this is inhuman," he said.
The GNA leaders' comments came as political talks are set to kick off between the two sides in Geneva on Wednesday, February 26.
UN envoy Ghassan Salame, who was scheduled to meet with Sarraj later on Monday, has said the political discussions would go ahead despite the hostilities on the ground.
But Syala said that the GNA had yet to receive an invitation to attend and that it remained to be seen whether the talks would go ahead as planned. – Rappler.com