U.N. presses for Libya ceasefire to hold


The United Nations on Tuesday called on Libya’s warring factions to maintain a ceasefire agreed as part of U.N.-backed negotiations, amid reports of continued fighting in parts of the North African country.

Four years after a NATO-backed uprising toppled Muammar Gaddafi, Western powers fear Libya is sliding closer to civil war. Two rival governments backed by allied armed factions are locked in a power struggle.

The internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni and the elected parliament have based themselves in eastern Libya since summer, when an armed faction known as Libya Dawn took over the Tripoli, the capital. Libya Dawn set up its own government and reinstalled the old parliament, the GNC.

The United Nations last week held talks in Geneva with some of the factions, including those representing Thinni’s government, and allies of Libya Dawn. But the Tripoli government and its assembly said they would participate only in Libya.

Armed factions have declared a partial ceasefire, but the rivals accused each other on Monday of renewed attacks near the country’s largest oil port, Es Sider. There were also reports of clashes west of the capital Tripoli.
“The mission urges the parties to discuss and commit to speedy concrete measures to consolidate the truce and tackle any violation,” the U.N. mission to Libya said in a statement.

Holding any agreement or truce in Libya is complicated by the fractures in both sides to the conflict. Both are fluid confederations of former rebel brigades whose loyalties are often largely to their local regions, tribes or cities.

The Geneva talks were aimed at working on a unity government, ending hostilities and putting Libya’s constitutional transition back on track.

The U.N. has said essential work is still to come, and the mission is now consulting with the parties over a suitable venue for more talks. But no date has been set.

In September, the United Nations held a first round of talks bringing together rival factions in the southern city of Ghadames, but little progress has been made. The myriad factions and armed groups who fought together to topple Gaddafi have since turned on each other in a chaotic scramble for control of the country and its oil resources.