by Mahmoud Darwesh

Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Serraj and Speaker of the east-based House of Representatives Aguila Saleh on Friday issued statements calling for a cease-fire in the country, reopening of the country’s oilfields and ports, and elections.

Questions have arisen about whether the declarations can put an end to the military escalation, as reinforcements by both parties have continued for more than two months near the Oil Crescent region.

Khalid al-Muntaser, professor of international relations in Libya, said he believes that the two parties are “now fully aware that the conflict can only be solved through political dialogue.”

“Military escalation between international parties supporting the government in Tripoli or the east-based parliament cannot resolve the conflict. Ending the war in Tripoli that lasted more than a year is proof of failure of the military option,” he said.

“The decision to accept cease-fire is not a coincidence. It is the result of pressure led by Washington and the UN Mission,” he said.

“The big problem is that the east-based parliament does not accept the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord. I believe this is not possible because this government is internationally recognized and has the full support of western Libyan cities, particularly Tripoli and Misurata,” he said.

Ahmad al-Hisnawi, a retired Libyan military official, said he does not believe that the cease-fire will last long.

“I don’t think the call for cease-fire is serious and can last long, because the Libyan parties have no initiative of their own. They are definitely under pressure of international parties,” al-Hisnawi told Xinhua.

“However, the call for cease-fire remains a good opportunity to convince the stubborn or extreme parties and grant them a final chance before they are sanctioned as suggested by the UN Security Council regarding parties that obstruct peace in Libya,” al-Hisnawi said.

“The military mobilization in the battle axes and frontlines reveals the intention of the rival parties to continue to resort to the military option for years, not just months. Why is it that the (east-based) army did not comment in this regard? The whole thing makes the intentions carry great doubts and fears,” al-Hisnawi added.

The east-based army, led by Khalifa Haftar, has not commented on the declarations issued by Serraj and Saleh yet.

Imad Jallul, a Libyan political analyst, said the call for elections next year is not new.

“The politicians always talk about elections. However, they are not serious … There are particular countries that do not want stability for Libya and do not want elections that lead to one government and one parliament, because this threatens its illegitimate interests in Libya,” Jallul told Xinhua.

Stephanie Williams, acting special representative of the UN Secretary General to Libya, on Friday welcomed the agreement on a cease-fire and elections in Libya.

Williams noted that the initiatives “have created hope for forging a peaceful political solution to the longstanding Libyan crisis, which will affirm the desire of the Libyan people to live in peace and dignity.”

The UN-backed government had been engaged in a deadly armed conflict against the east-based army, which is allied with the east-based House of Representatives, for more than a year over the control of the capital Tripoli, before the government recently took over western Libya.

Despite signing a UN-sponsored political agreement and the appointment of the UN-backed Government of National Accord in 2015, Libya remains politically divided and has been mired in insecurity and escalating violence. Enditem

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