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Warring factions in Libya sign cease-fire in key 1st step to end fighting

By
Don Jacobson
Forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord are seen guarding a position south of Tripoli, Libya, on September 25, 2018. File Photo by EPA-EFE
Forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord are seen guarding a position south of Tripoli, Libya, on September 25, 2018. File Photo by EPA-EFE

Oct. 23 (UPI) -- The United Nations said Friday the two main warring factions in Libya have officially signed a permanent cease-fire agreement that covers all areas of the North African nation.

The agreement between military representatives of Libya's internationally recognized Government of National Accord and Khalifa Haftar's eastern-based Libyan National Army was finalized at a ceremony in Geneva, said U.N. Special Representative for Libya Stephanie Turco Williams.

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"I am pleased to announce that the two sides have reached an agreement on many important issues that directly affect the lives and well-being of the Libyan people," Williams said in a statement.

The agreement, she said, is "a moment that will be recorded in history."

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"I think that what you have achieved together here represents an important turning point for Libya and for 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."

Under the terms of the cease-fire, both sides agreed to open roads and land crossings connecting all regions and cities of Libya and resume air traffic among cities including Sabha, the administrative capital of the south. The deal also ends "incitement" and "hate speech" in the media, halts military escalation and calls for mercenaries and foreign fighters to leave Libya within three months.

A permanent end to years of fighting, however, will require a broader agreement that includes other fighting factions in Libya and their outside supporters. Political discussions aimed at forging a lasting peace will begin in Tunisia next month.

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The interim Government of National Accord in Tripoli, which was formed five years ago, had called for a cease-fire in August.

Libya, once one of the world's top oil producers, has been displaced by violence since longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi died in 2011.

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