Tripoli Presidential Council Retracts its First Statement on Ceasefire under Intimidation by Militias and MB Leaders – Al Marsad

In less than ten hours from the issuance of its first statement in which it unconditionally accepted the truce, the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord, reiterated today, Sunday, its compliance with the ceasefire, stressing for the LNA forces to withdraw to their bases and the need for the brokers of the agreement and UNSMIL to monitor any infringements. Observers say the new statement was the result of pressure and intimidation by the militias on the Presidential Council.

[Libya, 12 January 2020] – “While the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord, out of its keenness to preserve the lives of Libyans and its propensity for peaceful solutions, welcomed the ceasefire initiative that came as a result of the efforts of the presidents of Russia and Turkey, our government has spotted and monitored violations of this agreement by the aggressor militias in the axes of Salahuddin and Wadi Al-Rabee just minutes after the ceasefire went into effect,” the Tripoli-based Presidential Council claimed in a statement obtained by Al Marsad.

Concluding its new statement, the Presidential Council stressed its “unwavering stance regarding the withdrawal of what it described as the aggressor [the Libyan National Army] to its bases, stating that this is the only way for any ceasefire initiative to succeed and that the GNA militiamen will not stand idly towards violations in the event of their recurrence and that its response will be violent and harsh,“ according to the text of the statement, which is considered a retreat from its previous statement, which did not mention the condition of withdrawal.

Media and political sources in Tripoli have pointed out that there has been extensive pressure accompanied by verbal intimidation and threats of treachery reiterated by armed groups and senior leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood like Khaled al-Mishri, Chairman of the advisory High State Council, and some members of the parallel parliament in Tripoli. These figures and groups exerted pressure on the Presidential Council to change its first statement and replace it with a new statement in which the condition for the withdrawal of the Libyan National Army to the pre-April 4 lines is added as a prerequisite for the success of the ceasefire. This was confirmed to Al Marsad by sources at the consultative High State Council (HSC) who stated that the HSC adheres to this prerequisite. It is worth noting that al-Mishri had previously stated that what he calls the forces of Haftar would withdraw after the ceasefire, followed by a third step, which he did not disclose.

The Presidential Council stressed, in its first statement, issued ten hours before its new statement and which did not include the condition of withdrawal, that it accepts the ceasefire that started at 00:01 hours on Sunday, 12 January, calling for sending the proposed military committees from both sides to prepare measures to ensure the ceasefire under the auspices and supervision of the United Nations.

The statement also noted the support of the Government of National accord for the political track through the Berlin conference on Libya and through a pan-Libya national conference that includes all parties and political orientations in the country. It called on all countries concerned with the Libyan file to positively contribute to  a peaceful solution in accordance with the Libyan Political Agreement and the relevant Security Council resolutions.

The Presidential Council affirmed what it categorized as its “legitimate right to self-defense by responding to any attack or aggression” that might occur from what it referred to as the other party [the Libyan National Army].

© Al Marsad English (2020)