By Harrison Arubu
The United Nations (UN) says it is working assiduously toward a permanent ceasefire in Libya following a two-day humanitarian truce partially observed by the main warring parties during the just-ended Eid al-Adha festival.
Ghassan Salamé, Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), gave the indication in a statement on Wednesday.
He said: “UNSMIL is ready to immediately use its good offices to transform what was accomplished in the period of truce into a permanent ceasefire.
“The mission welcomes the international community’s declarations of support for the truce and renews the SRSG’s proposal to convene a meeting of concerned countries.
“Nations should work towards providing guarantees for a permanent ceasefire, a call for upholding the arms embargo, and a commitment to return in good faith to a UN-sponsored comprehensive political process to end the Libyan conflict.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the SRSG proposed the truce for Thursday with the support of the Security Council.
Forces loyal to the UN-supported Government and the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) commanded by military general, Khalifa Haftar, announced that they would respect it.
However, the commitment was threatened by a deadly car bomb outside a shopping mall in the eastern city of Benghazi, which is controlled by the LNA.
The attack left three UN staff dead and three others injured, among them dozens of civilians.
According to the SRSG, the UN is not aware of any claim of responsibility for the car bomb.
He said an “internal enquiry would be conducted to ascertain the facts behind the incident”.
On a positive note, Salamé said the call for truce led to a “palpable reduction” of violence around the capital, Tripoli, which is the epicentre of the conflict.
“Despite the notable reduction in violence during the period of the temporary ceasefire, violations were reported to the mission.
“The truce was not respected in the town of Murzuq, in southwestern Libya, where communal violence continued, killing seven and wounding more than 50 others.
“The UN emphasises that lasting peace and stability in Libya, including an end to the worsening humanitarian crisis, will come only through a political solution and the parties should engage in dialogue without delay.
“The UN continues to stand ready to facilitate that dialogue”, the organisation said.
NAN reports that the temporary ceasefire was the first since Hitler’s forces launched an offensive in April to capture Tripoli from the U.N.-backed but weak government.
No fewer than 1,100 people, including 110 civilians, have died and more than 100,000 others forced to flee their homes.