Libya’s Haftar, unity govt agree to UN-backed Eid truce

Militias allied with the Tripoli-based government have been fighting since April against a military offensive to take the capital. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 August 2019

Libya’s Haftar, unity govt agree to UN-backed Eid truce

  • The UN envoy for Libya had proposed a multi-day truce for the Eid holiday
  • Fighting for Tripoli has killed over 1,100 people, mostly combatants, and has displaced more than 100,000 civilians

TRIPOLI, BENGHAZI: Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar’s forces agreed on Saturday to a UN-backed humanitarian truce around Tripoli for the festival of Eid Al-Adha, after the unity government conditionally accepted a cease-fire.

But as the UN was trying to broker a truce in Tripoli, a car bomb explosion in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi killed two UN staff on Saturday, several medical sources said.
Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) said earlier it was conditionally willing to accept a truce in fighting around the capital for the three-day holiday which starts on Sunday.
The UN had called on the GNA and Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) to commit to a humanitarian truce by midnight on Friday.
Haftar’s forces have been fighting since early April to seize Tripoli from the GNA.
The strongman’s spokesman Ahmad Al-Mesmari said on Saturday that his forces “announce a halt to all military operations ... in the suburbs of Tripoli.”
Mesmari said the truce had gone into effect at 3 p.m. on Sat

FASTFACT

As the UN was trying to broker a truce in Tripoli, a car bomb explosion in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi killed two UN staff on Saturday.

urday and would last until the same time on Monday afternoon.
The GNA had said late on Friday it was keen to “ease the suffering of the citizens and allow rescue workers to accomplish their mission” and would accept “a humanitarian truce for Eid Al-Adha.”
But it listed several conditions, saying the cease-fire must be observed “in all combat zones, with a cessation of direct and indirect fire and movement of troops.”
It also said the truce must include “a ban on flights and reconnaissance overflights” across the country’s entire airspace.
The GNA also called on the UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to “ensure the implementation of the truce and note any breaches.”
UNSMIL had expressed “regret” earlier on Saturday that it had “not received any response” from Haftar’s forces following its call for a cease-fire, and urged all sides to respect the sanctity of the festival.
Haftar’s spokesman, talking from the eastern city of Benghazi, then announced the cease-fire “out of respect for this occasion’s place in our spirits ... so that Libyan citizens can celebrate this Eid in peace.”
UN envoy Ghassan Salame had already called several times for humanitarian truces, without success.
In a video conference with the UN Security Council late last month, Salame warned against mounting tensions and called for a cease-fire for Eid Al-Adha.

Bomb explosion
Meanwhile, a Reuters reporter at a Benghazi hospital where casualties of the blast were taken saw a list of names of those killed identifying them as part of the UN Libya mission (UNSMIL).
Several medical and security officials at the hospital said two UN staff, one of them foreign, had been killed.
UNSMIL spokesman Jean El Alam said via email that the organization was “in the process of gathering information.”
The explosion happened in front of a shopping mall and bank. At least one burned out UN car could be seen at the scene.
Around the time of the blast, Haftar, announced a halt to military operations during the Eid Al-Adha holiday, which lasts from Saturday until Tuesday, according to a statement from his forces in Benghazi.


Sudan’s government, rebel leaders start peace talks in Juba

Updated 3 min 47 sec ago

Sudan’s government, rebel leaders start peace talks in Juba

  • The transitional authorities have six months to make peace with the rebels, according to the agreement
  • Achieving peace is crucial to the transitional government in Sudan

CAIRO: Sudan’s new transitional government met with rebel leaders on Monday, kicking off peace talks aimed at ending the country’s yearslong civil wars.

The peace initiative was built into a power-sharing deal between Sudan’s army and its pro-democracy movement. That deal was reached after the overthrow of longtime autocrat President Omar Al-Bashir in April. The transitional authorities have six months to make peace with the s, according to the agreement.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir is hosting the talks in its capital, Juba, where some rebel groups signed a draft agreement last month that detailed a roadmap for the talks, trust-building measures and an extension of a cease-fire already in place.

South Sudan gained independence from the north in 2011 after decades of civil war. But in the 2000s, Sudan was most known for Al-Bashir’s brutal repression of an uprising in the western Darfur region.

Achieving peace is crucial to the transitional government in Sudan. It has counted on ending the wars with rebels in order to revive the country’s battered economy through slashing the military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.

Sudanese authorities have introduced good-will signals. They dismissed death sentences against eight rebel leaders and released more than a dozen prisoners of war. They have also delayed the formation of the parliament and the appointment of provincial governors to allow time for the rebels to come on board.

The government delegation, led by Gen. Mohammed Hamadan Dagalo, a member of the Sudan’s sovereign council, arrived in Juba late Sunday. Rebel leaders arrived earlier this month.

Rebel leader Malik Agar of the Sudan Revolutionary Front, an alliance of Darfur rebel groups, told The Associated Press that they would start “the official opening” of the talks Monday in Juba.

Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan’s sovereign council, also arrived in Juba to attend the opening session, along with other African leaders including Egypt’s Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, according to the official SUNA news agency.

Ethiopia and the African Union mediated the power-sharing agreement in August which ended months of violence and faltering talks between Sudan’s generals and protesters following the uprising against Al-Bashir.

On Sunday, Sudan’s newly appointed top judicial officials were sworn in before Burhan.

Neamat Kheir, a veteran female judge, took the oath as chief of the judiciary. She’s the first woman to rise to Sudan’s highest judicial post. Taj Al-Ser Al-Hebr, a lawyer, was sworn in as the country’s public prosecutor.

Last month, thousands of Sudanese took to the streets demanding the two original appointees be sacked. Those two were chosen by the military council that ruled Sudan after ousting Al-Bashir.

Protesters had insisted that independent judges be appointed before prosecuting members of the old regime, as well as those responsible for a deadly crackdown on protesters in June.

Unlike many judges, Kheir was not known to compromise her integrity to serve the interests of Al-Bashir’s government. However, she was widely criticized for not having supported the Sudanese uprising since its inception.