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UN chief urges warring parties in Libya to accept 5+5 draft ceasefire deal amid COVID-19 outbreak



UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called upon the rival Libyan administrations to lay down arms and accept the temporary draft ceasefire agreement negotiated by the Libyan Joint Military Commission (5+5) in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement released by his spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Saturday.

In February, warring parties in Libya agreed to a draft ceasefire deal negotiated during the second round of 5+5 talks in Geneva that would allow for the safe return of civilians to their homes under the auspices of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya.

"The Secretary-General welcomes the positive responses by the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) on 18 and 21 March respectively, to the calls for a humanitarian pause to stop the fighting. He hopes that this will be translated into an immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities," the statement read.

Citing "the already dire humanitarian situation in Libya and the possible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," the spokesman said Guterres had urged the parties to join forces in addressing the threat and ensuring unhindered access of humanitarian aid throughout the country.

"He (Guterres) therefore calls on the parties to accept the draft ceasefire agreement emanating from the 5+5 Joint Military Commission talks facilitated by the United Nations in Geneva last month," the statement read.

Libya has been torn apart between the UN-recognized GNA and the rival LNA for years since the overthrow and assassination of its longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Tensions escalated last year after the LNA began its operation to retake the GNA-held capital of Tripoli.

The idea behind the 5+5 format is for the GNA and the LNA to negotiate a committee comprised of five senior military officers from each side that would pave the way of a lasting ceasefire.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Sun, March 22 2020. 13:19 IST