Tuesday, October 26, 2021
World News

Libyan rivals agree on pullout of mercenaries


Libya’s rival sides reached an initial agreement on the withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries from the North African nation, the United Nations said. It is a key step toward unifying the violence-wracked country.

The dispute over mercenaries and foreign fighters has long been an obstacle, particularly ahead of Libya’s landmark general elections due in December.

Libya has been engulfed in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The oil-rich country was for years split between rival governments, one based in the capital of Tripoli and the other in the eastern part of the country. Each side is backed by different foreign powers and militia groups.

The UN mission mediating between the rivals said a 10-member joint military commission, with five representatives from each side, signed a “gradual and balanced” withdrawal deal on Friday, at the end of three days of talks facilitated by the UN in Geneva.

The plan would be “the cornerstone for the gradual, balanced, and sequenced process of withdrawal” of the mercenaries and foreign forces, the mission said.

Jan Kubis, the UN special envoy for Libya, welcomed the move as “another breakthrough achievement.”

Libya’s split came into the forefront in 2019, when self-styled military commander Khalifa Hifter, allied with the east-based administration, launched an offensive to take Tripoli from armed militias loosely allied with the UN-supported but weak government in the country’s capital.

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