By Sami Zaptia.
London, 1 May 2020:
Libya’s internationally recognized government, based in Tripoli and led by Faiez Serraj, last night rejected Khalifa Hafter’s unilateral declaration of a humanitarian truce in the fighting over Tripoli. Hafter, the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) had launched the attack on Tripoli in April 2019 to ‘‘liberate it’’ from ‘‘terrorists, Islamists and militias’’.
It will be recalled that Hafter’s LNA announced on Wednesday a unilateral suspension of all its military operations on Wednesday. His official Spokesperson, Ahmed Mesmari had claimed that this was in response to ‘‘calls by the international community and sister countries’’ and as a ‘‘humanitarian truce during Ramadan’’.
On a related note Mesmari said that the coming days will see the launch of a “constitutional declaration under which a road map will be drawn up for the next phase”. He added that this upcoming roadmap aims to realize Libyans’ dreams in a safe and stable country and that it will satisfy them.
Hafter’s unilateral declaration of a truce comes on the back of an international call for a Ramadan truce last week in a joint statement by EU High Representative Josep Borrell and the Foreign Ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian of France, Heiko Maas of Germany and Luigi Di Maio of Italy.
But it also comes on the back of two major political announcements by House of Representatives (HoR) head Ageela Saleh and LNA commander Khalifa Hafter.
Last Thursday, Saleh launched a new 8-point political initiative to reform the current Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) as a way out of Libya’s current political impasse.
Hafter, meanwhile, announced a unilateral revocation of the internationally recognized LPA – in what was widely described as a coup d’état – and seemed to appoint himself as sole ruler of eastern Libya. His announcement was rejected by the UN and leading international powers.
It must also be kept in mind that Hafter’s forces have been on the backfoot, having recently lost a string of north western coastal cities and towns, are pinned down at Wittya airbase and are on the defensive on the Tarhuna front.
His announced truce is seen as an effort by him and his international backers to gain a strategic timeout to regroup and rearm. Politically, it could also be a face-saving tactic to resume political dialogue – having failed militarily.
In its statement rejecting Hafter’s truce, the Tripoli government said that it would ‘‘like to make it clear to the international community, especially the friendly countries concerned about Libyan affairs, that we have been and remain committed to saving Libyans’ blood. And on this basis, we have declared adherence to UN Security Council Resolution 2510 of 2020, which reinforces the outcome of the Berlin Conference, provides for a cessation of hostilities and the protection of civilians, as well as unilaterally signing the ceasefire put forward by both Russia and Turkey.
Unfortunately, the violations documented by the aggressor (Hafter) have increased since the Security Council Resolution, and the aggressor militias (Hafter’s LNA) have not stopped shelling residential neighbourhoods in the capital Tripoli, causing dozens of civilians to be killed and their homes destroyed.
Despite these violations, we have once again accepted the humanitarian truce called for by many international and regional organizations to protect our citizens and all residents of Libya, particularly because of the Corona pandemic, and it became clear to all that humanity was missing to the aggressor (Hafter) , his militias (LNA) and his terrorist mercenaries, as the epidemic was seen as an opportunity to escalate its attacks, taking advantage of our concern to confront this pandemic.
The previous (truce) violations (by Hafter) cause us never to trust his truce declarations, because he is accustomed to treachery and betrayal, and what the aggressor (Hafter) announced two days ago of the coup d’état on the Libyan Political Agreement (of Skhirat 2015) and on the legitimate institutions confirms that we do not have a partner for peace, but in front of us is a bloodthirsty person obsessed with power.
Any ceasefire, monitoring of violations and reaching a real and genuine truce require international sponsorship, guarantees and mechanisms to be discussed through the activation of the 5+5 committee supervised by UNSMIL.
At this time, we affirm our firm fixed position that we continue to legitimately defend ourselves, strike the hotbeds of threat wherever they exist and end the lawless groups that demean the lives of Libyans throughout the country.
On this occasion, we can only welcome all national positions throughout Libya, which have declared their rejection of the militarization of the state and call for a democratic civil state.
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