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Libya - Election 2021

Libya's civil conflict pits military commander Khalifa Haftar, commander of the eastern-based self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA). and its allies against forces aligned with the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, in the west. Haftar is supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia. Turkey, a bitter rival of Egypt and the UAE in a broader regional struggle over political Islam, is the main patron of the Tripoli forces, which are also backed by the wealthy Gulf state of Qatar.

Libya's warring rival governments announced in separate statements 21 August 2020 that they would cease all hostilities and organize nationwide elections soon, an understanding swiftly welcomed by the United Nations and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The statements were signed by Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the Government of National Accord based in the capital Tripoli, and Aguila Saleh, speaker of the eastern-based parliament. Sarraj, who heads the Presidential Council, said parliamentary and presidential elections would be held in March 2021. Both statements called for demilitarizing the city of Sirte and the Jufra area in central Libya, and a joint police force to be responsible for security there.

GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj "issued instructions to all military forces to immediately cease fire and all combat operations in all Libyan territories", a statement said. Al-Sarraj added the ultimate aim of the truce is to impose "full sovereignty over the Libyan territory and the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries".

The truce will make the strategic city of Sirte a temporary seat for a new presidential council to be guarded by security forces from various regions in the country. Already scarred by Libya's 2011 uprising and a takeover by the ISIL (ISIS) armed group, Sirte now finds itself not only at the centre of a civil war but also a focus of geopolitical enmities that span the region. Since Turkish intervention helped drive Haftar's LNA back in early June from its 14-month offensive on the capital, Tripoli, the front lines have settled around Sirte, in the middle of Libya's Mediterranean coast and close to major oil terminals.

As the GNA and Turkey looked ready to make further advances, Egypt declared Sirte a red line and pushed through parliamentary approval for possible military intervention. In recent weeks, Libyan factions and their foreign backers have been mobilising as diplomats try to avert a military escalation and secure a ceasefire.

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Page last modified: 28-08-2020 19:55:07 ZULU