The Libyan army gave the militia of warlord Khalifa Haftar until Saturday to re-open the strategic coastal road linking the country’s east and west.
“We sent a letter to the 5 + 5 Libyan Joint Military Commission giving them until Saturday [to inform Haftar’s militia] to open the coastal road,” Abdel-Hadi Darah, a spokesman for the Sirte-Jafra Operations Room, told Anadolu Agency.
The Joint Military Committee includes five members from the internationally recognized government and five from Haftar’s militia.
The coastal Misrata-Sirte Road is an important trade route that has been closed since Haftar’s militia launched a failed offensive to capture the capital Tripoli in 2019.
On June 6, the Libyan army announced the reopening of their side of the coastal road despite the failure of Haftar’s militia to reopen their side of the road.
At the time, Darah told Anadolu Agency that an agreement to reopen the Misrata-Sirte Road was reached to “alleviate the suffering of the citizens, and give the second party [Haftar] a deadline to withdraw the Russian Wagner mercenaries.”
However, Darah threatened to close the road again “in the event that the road is not opened from the other side.”
He held the 5 + 5 Libyan Joint Military Commission responsible for everything that is happening and called on it “to provide the names of those impeding the opening of the road and relieve Libyans from suffering.”
The spokesman said the military commission has not succeeded so far in removing the mercenaries from the country.
On Oct. 23, the UN announced a permanent cease-fire agreement between Libya’s warring rivals during its facilitated 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission talks in Geneva.
The agreement also called for the withdrawal of all mercenaries from Libya within three months of its signing. The deadline expired on Jan. 23.
Libya has witnessed positive developments in the last few months following a breakthrough after rival parties agreed on Feb. 5 on a unified new executive authority that will govern Libya in the lead-up to national elections on Dec. 24.
Libyans hope the new government will end years of civil war that have engulfed the country since the ouster and killing of strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi in 2011.
*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar in Ankara
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