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Gulf states welcome Libya ceasefire announcement

On Friday, the GNA announced a ceasefire across the oil-rich country [AFP]

Date of publication: 22 August, 2020

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Through UN mediation, all parties should work to "reach a permanent and comprehensive solution to end the conflict in Libya", GCC Secretary-General Dr Nayef Al-Hajraf said.
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have welcomed a ceasefire announced by Libya's UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), Emirati state media reported on Saturday.

In a statement, GCC Secretary-General Dr Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf called on all parties adhere to the "constructive step" and "urgently engage in political dialogue".

Through UN mediation, all parties should work to "reach a permanent and comprehensive solution to end the conflict in Libya", Dr Al-Hajraf said.

On Friday, the GNA announced a ceasefire across the oil-rich country. The call was later echoed by the rival east-based parliament, quelling fears of escalation in the more than nine-year-old conflict.

Fayez Sarraj, Prime Minister of the GNA, urged for demilitarisation of the strategic city of Sirte, a gateway to the country's oil fields, where opposing forces tussle for power.

Sarraj also announced that parliamentary and presidential elections would be held in March.

Aguila Saleh, speaker of the rival parliament, affirmed the calls for demilitarising Sirte, as well as Jufra, a key city in central Libya.

Both sides also expressed a desire to end an oil blockade imposed by forces loyal to the warlord Khalifa Haftar early this year, and for oil revenues to be channelled into the bank account of the National Oil Corporation based outside of the country.

Saleh made the call despite being an ally of Haftar. There has so far been no comment from the commander’s camp.

The UN support mission in Libya welcomed the developments.

"The two initiatives have created hope for forging a peaceful political solution to the longstanding Libyan crisis, a solution that will affirm the desire of the Libyan people to live in peace and dignity," said Stephanie Williams, acting head of the UN mission.

Read more: Libya's government announces cease-fire, calls for elections

Libya has been mired in conflict and instability ever since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was later killed.

Rival east and west-based administrations have fought for control of the country since then, each backed by mercenaries and foreign forces.

Fighters loyal to Haftar launched an offensive to seize the capital Tripoli in April last year. His campaign was overrun when GNA forces, backed by Turkey, drove his fighters from the outskirts of Tripoli and other towns west of the country.

The chaos in Libya has worsened in recent months as foreign backers have stepped up their involvement, despite pledges to the contrary at a high-profile peace summit in Berlin earlier this year.

Haftar is supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia. Turkey, a bitter rival of Egypt and the UAE, in a broader regional struggle over political Islam, is the main patron of the Tripoli forces, which are also backed by the wealthy Gulf state of Qatar.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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