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Libya’s LNA ready to sign ceasefire agreement but Tripoli is unwilling — Lavrov

The Tripoli government counts on the military solution, according to Russia's top diplomat

MOSCOW, July 8. /TASS/. The Libyan National Army (LNA) is ready to sign the immediate ceasefire treaty, but the government in Tripoli is unwilling to do so, as it counts on the military solution, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday following the videoconference with his counterparts from the African Union trio (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt and South Africa).

"At some stage, when we invited the main protagonists, gentlemen [Khalifa] Haftar, [Fayez] Sarraj, [Aguila] Saleh, in January this year ahead of the Berlin conference — the Libyan National Army thought its positions on the ground to be more favorable and was not ready to sign a document that Sarraj considered acceptable. Now, the LNA, according to our assessments, is ready to sign such a document on immediate ceasefire, but this time it is the Tripoli government who does not want to do it, counting on the military solution," he said.

The foreign minister expressed his regret that although all sides declare that there is no military solution to the Libyan conflict, this does not translate into practical steps.

Initiative to create state bodies representing three historic Libyan regions

The Russian foreign minister has supported the initiative to set up state bodies representing all three historic Libyan regions based on the balance of interests. "Speaking on the military situation on the ground and what forces and from which side are preparing to cross this or that line — all this takes a back seat. If we agree that there is no military solution, there is the need to simply stop. And then there are the already tested mechanisms," Lavrov told a press conference via a video link-up.

"There is the so-called 5+5 military committee and there is the proposal confirmed in the Cairo declaration, including the one put forward by President of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives [Aguila] Saleh who recently visited Moscow. I mean the establishment of truly collective and equal bodies of state power, where all three historic Libyan provinces will be represented based on the balance of interests. I believe this is an absolutely reasonable proposal," Lavrov stressed.

In April, Saleh put forward a proposal on ironing out the crisis, which implies the establishment of a commission on drafting a new Constitution involving experts from three historic Libyan provinces — Tripolitania in the northwest, Cyrenaica in the east, and Fezzan in the southwest — as well as foreign experts in this field. It was supposed to function for 90 days with the simultaneous restructuring of the Presidential Council, with one representative from each of the three provinces to elect the Council head and to form the government of national unity. The Cabinet’s term of office will be limited by the period necessary to conduct parliamentary and presidential elections.

US tries to hinder appointment of new UN envoy to Libya

The US actions give the impression of efforts to interfere with the designation of a new UN special representative in Libya, Russia's top diplomat stated.

"It’s been half a year already that the UN secretary-general cannot appoint a new special representative in Libya. Both Algeria’s foreign minister and the former head of Ghana’s Foreign Ministry were nominated but the US refused to support them. The impression is that our American colleagues are trying to sideline Mr. Secretary-General Guterres," he said.

The top diplomat noted that currently the acting special representative in Libya is US citizen Stephanie Williams. "It wouldn’t do for the US to 'hold down' the UN Secretariat, hindering the appointment of a special envoy counting on their fellow countrywoman to deal with some issues unclear to us," Lavrov stressed.

Libya has had two parallel executive power structures for a long while now. The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Fayez al-Sarraj and the interim government operating in the country’s east together with the parliament and supported by the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Commander Khalifa Haftar. Over a year ago the opposing parties began fighting for the capital city after on April 4, 2019 Haftar attacked the capital in order to rid it of terrorists, as he claimed.

The Tripoli Cabinet of Ministers in turn mobilized all loyal military formations and officially asked Turkey for help based on a joint memorandum on military cooperation signed in November 2019. Currently, thanks to Ankara’s active assistance, the GNA managed to regain control over several territories previously occupied by the LNA.