WORLD / AFRICA
UN mission hails new Libya prisoner swap under October truce
Published: Jan 07, 2021 07:03 PM
The UN mission in Libya has welcomed a second exchange of prisoners between the country's rival administrations and called for faster progress on other parts of an October truce.

The formerly warring sides exchanged a total of 35 prisoners in the small southwestern town of Shwairif under the auspices of a Joint Military Commission (JMC) set up under the hard-won cease-fire, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said.

The two sides completed a first prisoner swap in the same town late last month.

"This second official exchange of detainees is the result of the steadfast commitment by the JMC to move forward with the full implementation of the cease-fire agreement," the UN mission said.

"In this spirit, UNSMIL calls on both parties to swiftly finalize ongoing ­negotiations to reopen the coastal road."

The main highway along Libya's Mediterranean coast linking the capital Tripoli in the west with second city Benghazi in the east has long been severed by the front line between the opposing administrations.

The UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) controls Tripoli and most of the west while a rival administration dominated by military leader Khalifa Haftar controls Benghazi and the east.

The fragile cease-fire between the two sides has largely held, despite a threat by Haftar last month to resume fighting amid the pandemic.

The next major test of the truce is a January 23 deadline for all foreign troops and mercenaries to leave Libya.

Turkey has deployed troops and Syrian militia allies in support of the GNA.

It is reported that Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have dispatched military advisers and private contractors in support of Haftar.

UN chief Antonio Guterres proposed last month that international monitors be deployed to support the cease-fire amid hopes Libya can finally turn the page on a decade of war since a NATO-backed uprising ousted and killed longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
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