An official from the United Nations has called on all parties in Libya to comply with a cease-fire agreement signed last year amid fears of resurgent violence after the Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha escaped an assassination attempt, according to a statement issued Monday by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
Jan Kubis, the U.N. secretary-general's special envoy for Libya and head of UNSMIL, held talks with the parties in the country for a week and advised them to implement U.N. resolutions, including the expulsion of foreign powers and mercenaries.
The deadline for the departure of foreign mercenaries from Libya under the October cease-fire passed last month but calls to accelerate the process continue as no movement has been announced or observed on the ground. In late January, the U.N. Security Council and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres once again called on thousands of foreign fighters and mercenaries to immediately leave Libya after the deadline for them to depart was ignored.
Foreign mercenaries and arms have poured into the country since eastern-based putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar launched his offensive, with Russia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) serving as the putschist general's top suppliers, against the legitimate U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and its capital Tripoli in 2019. According to the U.N., there are currently 20,000 foreign forces and/or mercenaries left in Libya.
The Russian Wagner Group, which is owned by business person Yevgeny Prigozhin, a figure close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is known as one of the main groups that sent mercenaries to fight in Libya. In June, the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) revealed that 2,000 Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group had been operating alongside Haftar forces.
The UNSMIL statement also emphasized that Kubis will continue to support efforts to reach the constitutional-based agreement necessary for holding elections in December 2021.
Delegations of Libya's warring parties signed a permanent cease-fire agreement last October in Geneva for a truce with immediate effect in all areas of the country.
During his visit to Libya, Kubis met with the president of the Tobruk House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, on Feb. 17 and the leader of the illegitimate armed forces in the east of the country, Haftar, on Feb. 19.
In his statement last Saturday, Kubis had said that he would continue to support Mohammad Younes Menfi, who was elected president of Libya's interim government, and Abdul Hamid Dbeibah the prime minister.
Dbeibah, who will serve as prime minister until presidential and parliamentary elections on Dec. 24, is expected to form his cabinet by Feb. 26 at the latest and present it to the House of Representatives to receive a vote of confidence.
Amid the ongoing normalization period in the war-torn country, Interior Minister Bashagha on Sunday survived an assassination attempt as his convoy was fired at with machine guns from a pickup truck while he was on the way to his residence in Janzur, west of the capital Tripoli.
Bashagha said on Monday he escaped a "well-planned" assassination attempt, stating: "It was not an incident that came by chance, but was well-planned."
Describing the scene, he said when his convoy reached Janzur, an armed vehicle started approaching it and people inside the vehicle opened fire.
He said one of the assailants was killed and two others were injured but didn't give further details.
Even after a decade of popular uprisings, Libya continues to remain in chaos. An expert on the region urged allocating of social space to the traumatized country to bring divided institutions together. But the expert also lamented that geopolitical rivalries have brought new barriers in the way of resolution of the conflict.
Libyans marked the 10th anniversary of the 2011 revolution on Feb. 17, which inspired by the Arab Spring's success to end the 42 years of Moammar Gadhafi's rule. But soon after the revolution, the country collapsed into a political deadlock.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Nebahat Tanrıverdi Yaşar, an expert on North African political affairs said Libya was still struggling to design post-conflict reconstruction, in the wake of social and economic devastation brought by the civil war.
"Just after 2011, some challenges in reconstruction were Gadhafi's legacy, like the necessity of building institutions that never existed under his heavy-handed rule. Some were the deeds of the international military intervention, and lastly not to mention the devastation of civil war," Yaşar said.
She said that foreign interventions without strong post-conflict settlement plans only strengthened the drift toward fragmentation.
"With its deeply fragmented and traumatized social structure after the second civil war, Libya needs social peace to bring its divided institutions together and to decide how to shape its future. However, the geopolitical rivalry has set new barriers for resolution of the conflict in the country," she added.