United Nation secretary-general Antonio Guterres called for all foreign troops to leave Libya on Thursday, January 28. Guterres was speaking to the press after a meeting of the Security Council where the acting special representative of the secretary-general in Libya and head of United Nation Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Stephanie Williams, said that intra-Libya dialogue has produced “tangible results.”
The Security Council too issued a statement demanding an end to the presence of all foreign fighters in Libya and efforts to rebuild the war-torn country.
Ms. Williams reported in an online meeting that a ceasefire agreement signed between warring factions in the country on October 23 has been holding and all parties have also agreed on a roadmap for an interim executive authority ahead of the December 24 elections along with long-overdue economic reforms. However, the presence of foreign troops remains a crucial issue.
#Libya: “I am pleased to report that the ceasefire signed in Geneva on 23 October continues to be observed,” Acting Special Representative Williams said in a @UN Security Council briefing today. https://t.co/Di1GMgQHmP pic.twitter.com/O4PLUiDScu
— UN Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (@UNDPPA) January 28, 2021
Libya has been divided into three major parts since the outbreak of war in the country in 2011, post the invasion led by NATO and the killing of long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi. The two major political forces – the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar – along with smaller groups, are supported by different global and regional powers including Turkey, Russia, UAE and France. Some of these countries have their troops stationed in the country too. According to the UN, there are an estimated 20,000 foreign troops in Libya at the moment, including mercenaries.
The warring factions have been participating in the intra-Libyan dialogue facilitated by the UNSMIL since last year, offering hopes of ending the decade-long war and restoring peace and unity in the country.
Ms. Williams also expressed apprehensions about the fortification of Sirte by Khalifa Haftar’s LNA or LAAF and demanded its immediate dismantling.
Guterres emphasized that “it’s essential that all foreign troops and all foreign mercenaries move first to Benghazi and to Tripoli and, from there, move back and leave the Libyans alone, because the Libyans have already proven that, left alone, they are able to address their problems,” Reuters reported.
Ms. Williams also appealed to the UNSC to pass a new resolution dissolving various authorities in Libya, and supporting and recognizing the new interim administration outlines of which have been agreed on Geneva earlier this month in a meeting of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum.