Eastern Libyan forces pause operations during Ramadan

All military operations across Libya have stopped in response to international appeals

Eastern Libyan forces laying siege to the country’s capital of Tripoli have agreed on a humanitarian pause in fighting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Ahmed al-Mismari, a spokesman for the forces of military commander Khalifa Hiftar, said at a news conference that they have stopped all military operations across Libya in response to international appeals for a humanitarian truce so authorities could focus on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The recent round of fighting in war-torn Libya began last April when Hiftar’s forces launched an offensive trying to take Tripoli, clashing with an array of militias loosely allied with the UN-supported, but weak, government in the capital.

There was no immediate comment from the Tripoli-based administration, known as the Government of National Accord.

Violence has escalated in recent weeks, with the two warring sides accusing each other of shelling civilian neighbourhoods. The UN has said the violence and worsening humanitarian crisis in Libya could amount to war crimes.

Stephanie Williams, acting UN envoy in Libya, on Tuesday called for a humanitarian truce during Ramadan that could pave the way for a permanent cease-fire.

The cease-fire announcement came after Hiftar declared on Monday that a 2015 UN-brokered political deal to unite the oil-rich country was “a thing of the past.”

Al-Mismari said on Wednesday that Hifar’s self-styled Libyan National Army would announce a constitutional declaration including a “road map” that would lead the country to elections.

The Tripoli-based government had said it wasn’t surprised by Hiftar’s announcement and urged Libyans to join “a comprehensive dialogue and continue on the democratic path to reach a comprehensive and permanent solution based on ballot boxes.”

The clashes in Libyan have complicated efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak. Libya has confirmed more than 60 cases, including two deaths, most of them the country’s west.

Arab Observer


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