By Ali Salem and Maha Sulaiman.
Tripoli/Benghazi, 18 January 2015:
The . . .[restrict]Libyan National Army (LNA), under the control of the Tobruk-based House of Represntatives, has declared a general ceasefire throughout the country as of midnight tonight, 18 January. It will cover land, air and naval forces.
In its announcement dated yesterday but issued today, the LNA’s General Command says that the decision was in response to the call by delegates to the UN-brokered dialogue in Geneva for a cessation of hostilities.
Operation Dignity spokesman Mohamed Hejazi told the Libya Herald that the ceasefire was already being put into effect in the west and south of the country and at Ben Jawad. It would not, however, extend to Derna or Benghazi. There, he said, the battle was different. “We are fighting terrorism in Benghazi and Derna,” he said. “We will not stop.”
Confirming the ceasefire limitations, Chief of Staff spokesman Colonel Ahmed Mismari added that naval action aimed at preventing Ansar Al-Sharia obtaining supplies by sea would continue.
In its statement, the LNA wished all those taking part in the dialogue success, adding that wherever the outcome in Geneva it would continue to attempt to install law and order in Libya.
Libya Dawn is split over the ceasefire.
In a response today reflecting the views of hardliners within the group, its media office said it would not accept anything put out by Operation Dignity or the House of Representatives and that those issuing the ceasefire statement were “criminals”. The only legitimate military authorities in Libya, it insisted, were continuing Congress president Nuri Abu Sahmain as Commander-in-Chief and Major-General Abdussalam Jadallah Obeidi as Chief of Staff.
On Friday, however, Ahmed Hadia, spokesman of the Misrata-based Central Shield, the strongest element in Libya Dawn, announced an immediate ceasefire which, he said, would cover all Libya Dawn forces as well as those of Operation Sunrise. The latter was set up by the Tripoli authorities to take over the oil terminals in the east of the country and is nominally separate from Dawn.
This too was a response to the Geneva request, as well as enabling humanitarian supplies to be sent where needed and wounded people in Benghazi and Kikla to be treated, Hadia said.
However, almost immediately, a number of other groups within Dawn such as the Janzour-based National Mobile Forces said that they had received no instructions to stop fighting, and that they would only do so if ordered by Abu Sahmain as commander-in-chief and Chief of Staff Obeidi. The Hassi Ministry of Defence, firmly linked to the hardliners, also said that Hadia had been authorised to make such an statement.
Within Misratan forces there are also divisions. Controversial former Misrata GNC member Salah Badi who leads the Haten brigade and vehemently opposed the idea of dialogue, was filmed yesterday near Ajilat calling on militiamen to continue fighting, describing those who chose to join the Geneva talks as “traitors”.
The United National Special Mission in Libya, which is brokering the dialogue talks in Geneva, has welcomed both ceasefires, calling them “an encouraging sign” giving dialogue the chance to work. It added that they would enable humanitarian aid to reach the displaced and those in need and encourage international aid organisations to resume work in Libya. It would be monitoring breaches. [/restrict]