Libya’s two rival factions signed a “permanent” ceasefire agreement Friday after five days of talks at the United Nations, which hailed the move as a moment that will go down in history.
“Today is a good day for the Libyan people,” said Stephanie Williams, the UN’s envoy to the troubled North African country, where a UN-recognized government in Tripoli has been battling a rival administration based in the east and dominated by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
“At 11:15 am (0915 GMT) this morning here at the UN headquarters in Geneva, the two Libyan delegations… signed a complete, countrywide and permanent ceasefire agreement with immediate effect,” she said.
“The agreement was facilitated by the United Nations and we signed it as witnesses,” she told a news conference in the Swiss city.
Libya has been wracked by conflict for nearly a decade, since the overthrow and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising.
Since then, the North African country has been dominated by armed groups, riven by local conflicts and divided between the two bitterly opposed administrations.
But hopes for a solution have risen after the two warring factions in August separately announced they would cease hostilities.
However, both sides continue to accuse each other of supporting “terrorist” groups.
The UN-sponsored talks took place in the format of a 5+5 Joint Military Commission: five delegates from each side attend.
The breakthrough was announced on Friday at a signing ceremony that was streamed live on the Facebook page of the UN’s Libya mission.
“The 5+5 Joint Military Commission talks in Geneva today culminate in a historic achievement as Libyan teams reach a permanent ceasefire agreement across Libya,” it said.
“This achievement is an important turning point towards peace and stability in Libya.”
Delegates, wearing masks, stood before signing the agreement documents at the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva.