UN, Malta salute Libya ceasefire for ‘better, safer, and more peaceful future’

Libyan ceasefire clinched in Geneva after four rounds of negotiations since February 2020

Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo
Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo

Malta has saluted a new, ‘permanent’ ceasefire between warring Libyan parties in Geneva, that could herald a new era for the war-torn nation. 

Foreign minister Evarist Bartolo said it was important that the agreement is executed in full in order for ordinary life to resume in Libya. “The oil can start flowing and from those revenues a new country can be built, and with that homes, schools and hospitals, airports and power stations, and other buildings destroyed by war. Libyans have suffered for too long in a country that could be the wealthiest in the Mediterranean.” 

The country has been roiled by division and conflict, since the overthrow of former dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011. Supporters of the UN-recognized Government in Tripoli have been under siege for months, following an offensive by forces of the rival administration of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. 

UN-led mediation by the 5+5 Joint Military Commission, representing the two sides, yielded Friday’s agreement, that UNSMIL chief Stephanie Williams said could help secure “a better, safer, and more peaceful future for all the Libyan people. 

“I would like to salute you, because what you have accomplished here takes a great deal of courage,” Williams said. “You have gathered for the sake of Libya, for the sake of your people, to take concrete steps to end their suffering.” 

The UNSMIL head said the agreement “represents an important distinguishing mark for Libya and the Libyan people. I very much hope that future generations of Libyans will celebrate today's agreement, as it represents that decisive and courageous first step towards a comprehensive settlement of the Libyan crisis that followed.” 

Williams said there was “much work ahead in the coming days and weeks to implement the commitments contained in this agreement” adding that it was important to continue focused negotiations, “as quickly as possible in order to alleviate the many hardships that this conflict has caused to the Libyan people.” 

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the ceasefire, telling journalists in New York on Friday that represented “a fundamental step toward peace and stability in Libya.” 

The agreement was negotiated within the framework of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission in four rounds of negotiations held since February of this year. 

The UN chief said UNSMIL was making preparations to resume the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum - which stalled when fighting escalated last year – adding that it will be preceded by a series of meetings and consultations that would facilitate “the resumption of inclusive, intra-Libyan political talks – Libyan-led and Libyan owned.” 

“There is no military solution for the conflict in Libya. This ceasefire agreement is a critical step. There is much hard work ahead,” he warned.