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News ID: 90217
Publish Date : 15 May 2021 - 21:13
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NEW YORK (Dispatches) – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says foreign militants and mercenaries remain in Libya in violation of last October’s ceasefire agreement and has called for their withdrawal and an end to violations of the UN arms embargo.
In a report to the UN Security Council, Guterres said that the smooth transfer of power to a new interim government, which took power in March was a progress that must continue on the political, economic and security tracks to enable elections to go ahead on Dec. 24.
Libya has been wracked by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, and split the oil-rich North African country between a UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the country’s east, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.
In April 2019, the east-based commander Khalifa Hifter and his forces, backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive to try and capture Tripoli. His 14-month-long campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its military support of the UN-backed government with hundreds of troops and thousands of mercenaries.
An October ceasefire agreement that included a demand for all foreign militants and mercenaries leave Libya within 90 days led to a deal on the transitional government and December elections.
The UN estimated in December that there were at least 20,000 foreign militants and mercenaries in Libya. But at an informal council meeting in late April, speakers said there were more than 20,000, according to diplomats.
Guterres said in the new report that while the ceasefire continues to hold, the UN political mission in Libya has received reports of fortifications and defensive positions being set up in central Libya on the key route between the strategic city of Sirte, the gateway to the country’s major oil fields and export terminals, and Jufra.
"Despite the commitments made by the parties, air cargo activities reportedly continued with flights to various air bases in Libya’s Western and Eastern regions,” the secretary-general said, adding, "Reports indicated that there was no reduction of foreign fighters or of their activities in central Libya.”

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