- The Washington Times - Friday, October 23, 2020

The two opposing sides in Libya’s conflict signed a permanent cease-fire on Friday after nearly a decade of violence.

The agreement followed five days of negotiations in Geneva, where the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and rival government backed by military commander Khalifa Haftar participated in the mediation.

The development was quickly hailed by acting U.N. Special Representative Stephanie Turco Williams, who led the talks and said the deal will contribute toward “a better, safer, and more peaceful future for all the Libyan people.”

“The road was long and difficult at times, but your patriotism has been your guide all the time, and you have succeeded in concluding an agreement for a successful and lasting cease-fire,” she continued.

Signing the cease-fire marks a significant step toward finding a permanent solution to the longstanding conflict that broke out in 2011 after a NATO-backed uprising quashed the government and killed dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Several attempts have been made in the past to strike a cease-fire, but the efforts have repeatedly collapsed.

It was not immediately clear how the cease-fire will be enforced, but Ms. Williams said that foreign mercenaries will leave “all Libyan territories land, air and sea” within three months.

The deal, which will soon be sent to the U.N. Security Council, will also lead to a joint military force and a solution to monitor future violations.

European partners quickly welcomed the ceasefire agreement as a spokesperson for the European Union called the development “key for the resumption of a political dialogue.”

“It’s very important, as well, to see this accord put into effect,” EU foreign policy spokesperson Peter Sano said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement that the agreement “finally promises a change of course from military to political logic.”

“This news is the first ray of hope for the people of Libya in a long time,” he said.

Despite the optimism from some, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised questions about the viability of the deal.

“Today’s cease-fire agreement was actually not made at the highest level, it was at a lower level. Time will tell whether it will last,” said Mr. Erdogan, whose government supports the GNA. “So it seems to me that it lacks credibility.”

• This story is based in part on wire service reports.

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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