By Sami Zaptia.
London, 12 January 2020:
Early reports suggest that Tripoli’s midnight ceasefire is holding. A straw poll through telephone calls this morning by Libya Herald suggests that both sides were – at the time of publication – respecting the ceasefire.
The ceasefire was confirmed earlier yesterday by the Faiez Serraj-led Presidency Council in Tripoli and the Official Spokesperson for Khalifa Hafter’s forces, Ahmed Mesmari.
The internationally recognized Presidency Council in Tripoli confirmed its desire to adhere to the ceasefire called for on Wednesday by Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan and Russia’s counterpart Vladimir Putin.
It added that the ceasefire was conditional to military committee agreed by both parties to monitor the ceasefire under UN supervision. It also added that it supports the Berlin political process encompassing Libyans from all political parties and streams.
furthermore, the Presidency Council called upon all states concerned with the Libyan file to positively support a political solution through the Skhirat 2015 Libyan Political Agreement and related UN Security Council Resolutions.
It also added that it meanwhile retained its legitimate right to self defence against an attack by the opposing side.
It will be recalled that Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan and Russia’s counterpart Vladimir Putin called on Wednesday for a ceasefire in Libya’s fighting as of midnight 12 January. The call came as Libya related diplomatic activity intensified.
Turkey supports the internationally recognized government based in Tripoli led by Faiez Serraj while Russia backs the Khalifa Hafter led forces which launched an attack on the capital on 4 April.
After a recent security and military agreement with Tripoli, Turkey has said it will send military advisers, while Russian military contractors have been deployed alongside Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).
However, after talks between the two presidents in Istanbul, Turkey and Russia called jointly for an end of hostilities, normalization of life in Tripoli and other cities, and U.N.-sponsored peace talks.
The conflict is undermining regional security and triggering irregular migration, the further spread of weapons, terrorism and other criminal activities including illicit trafficking – their statement had said.
Fighting around Tripoli had recently intensified right up to the time of the ceasefire. Hafter’s forces had also taken over Sirte on Monday and had announced an extended no-fly zone to cover Tripoli’s Mitiga airport on Wednesday. It is to be seen if the two sides can maintain the ceasefire on the ground.
After Wednesday’s call for a ceasefire by Erdogan and Putin, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) , Ghassan Salame, welcomed the ‘‘recent calls for a ceasefire in Libya by a number of countries and international and regional organisations, the most recent of which is the joint call today by the Presidents of Turkey and Russian’’.
He urged international and Libyan parties to respond positively to these calls and cease all military operations across Libya immediately to spare the country further bloodshed and provide relief to its people who are suffering the woes of this war.
Salame encouraged the international community, especially countries concerned with the Libyan crisis, to seize the current momentum and push the Berlin Process forward in order to reach an international consensus. The success of the Berlin Process will secure an international umbrella to provide support and protection for the three-track intra-Libyan process, launched by UNSMIL and aimed at addressing the Libyan crisis in all its aspects, economic and financial, military and security, and political, he concluded.