UN cease-fire talks resume in Libya but fighting continues

Fighters loyal to the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) clash with forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar south of the capital Tripoli on Monday. (AFP)
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Updated 03 June 2020

UN cease-fire talks resume in Libya but fighting continues

  • UN envoy meet delegation representing military commander Khalifa Haftar
  • Haftar's rivals retake Tripoli’s international airport after heavy fighting

NEW YORK: Military talks on a cease-fire in Libya resumed Wednesday, the United Nations announced, welcoming it as a “positive” first step.
The interim UN envoy, Stephanie Williams, met with a five-member delegation representing military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
A meeting with the UN-recognized Government of National Accord will be held within the coming days, he added.
“Negotiations will continue on the cease-fire agreement and associated arrangements on the basis of the draft presented by the UN mission to both delegations on Feb. 23 this year,” Dujarric said.
“The UN mission encourages the parties to de-escalate, consider a truce to enable improved delivery of humanitarian assistance and to refrain from incitement and create an environment conducive for negotiations and building trust between the parties.”
The UN mission in Libya had announced on Tuesday that the rival factions had agreed to resume talks after a suspension of more than three months.
Fighting has continued, however, notably near the capital Tripoli, which since April 2019 has been the target of an offensive by Haftar’s eastern-based forces.
On Wednesday, the GNA said its forces had retaken Tripoli’s international airport after heavy fighting with troops loyal to Haftar.
The conflict has resulted in hundreds of deaths, including numerous civilians, and displaced more than 200,000 people.
Over the past year, foreign powers have become increasingly involved in the conflict.
The UAE, Egypt and Russia have supported Haftar’s camp, while Turkey has intervened militarily on behalf of the GNA, which has recently scored a series of military victories.
All previous attempts at a cease-fire, most recently in January on the occasion of a conference in Berlin, have failed.
In February, when talks were suspended, the rival camps had agreed to negotiate a “permanent cease-fire” under a joint GNA/pro-Haftar military commission.


Algeria reopens mosques, beaches after 5-month lockdown

Updated 15 August 2020

Algeria reopens mosques, beaches after 5-month lockdown

  • Restaurants were also allowed to reopen, and mosques that can hold more than 1,000 people and ensure social distancing measures
  • Crowds packed beaches Saturday in the capital Algiers, celebrating the opportunity to swim in the Mediterranean Sea

ALGIERS: Algeria started reopening its mosques, cafes, beaches and parks Saturday for the first time in five months, gradually relaxing one of the world’s longer virus confinement periods.
Curfews remain in place in more than half the country, and masks are required outdoors as Algeria tries to keep virus infections down. But authorities decided to start reopening public places starting Saturday, saying the virus infection rate is believed to have stabilized.
Crowds packed beaches Saturday in the capital Algiers, celebrating the opportunity to swim in the Mediterranean Sea amid the August heat.
Restaurants were also allowed to reopen, and mosques that can hold more than 1,000 people and ensure social distancing measures.
However, mosques remain closed to all women, children and the elderly until further notice, and the main weekly Muslim prayers on Friday will remain banned to limit crowds. Mosque-goers must wear masks and bring their own prayer mats.
“This reopening will depend entirely on the discipline of each person to respect protection measures,” said the minister for religious affairs, Mohamed Belmahdi, who was among those attending the first services Saturday at Khaled Ibn El Walid Mosque in the resort town of Heuraoua east of Algiers.
He warned that authorities would close mosques again if Algerians show even a “slight indifference” toward preventive measures. “The health of citizens comes before faith.”
Algeria has reported more than 37,000 virus infections and 1,350 deaths as of Friday, the third-highest death rate reported in Africa after South Africa and Egypt.