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Libyan PM says key coastal road reopens ahead of peace talks Middle East News


Abdul Hamid Dbeibe declares the east-west highway open, but the eastern forces are still blocking it.

The head of Libya’s unity government said it had reopened the main coastal road beyond the frozen frontline, a gesture of progress in a fragile peace process, but Eastern forces said the road was closed.

Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh’s move to reopen the road on Sunday is in line with a ceasefire agreement reached last year as part of efforts to end Libya’s decade-long chaos and violence.

Dbeibe said on Sunday that the reopening of the coastal road connecting Misrata to the western Mediterranean city of Sirte in Libya was a “new step” in restoring stability and unity in the North African country.

“I am very happy to participate in the opening of this powerful lifeline that connects the east of our country to the west,” Dbeiben told the crowd as bulldozers dragged the rocks and sand dunes blocking the road.

The move comes days before a meeting of international powers in Berlin to discuss the Libyan crisis, progress on uniting the country’s fragmented institutions, and holding elections in December.

Dbeibe removed the mound of sand that blocked the road at the last checkpoint on the west side of the frontline before moving his column eastward to the Heart, which was occupied by eastern forces.

However, a rebel group in the east of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, said the road was still closed and “there is no truth in what is being said about its reopening.”

Al-Azira Malik Traina, which reports from the coastal area of ​​Sirte, said Eastern forces said the full opening of the road would require the approval of a joint military commission representing both Western and Eastern forces.

“It simply came to our notice then that Libya was still deeply divided. “I think many people hoped that this interim government would unite the country, but we have to wait and see what happens,” he said.

Libya, a major North African oil producer, has had little peace or stability since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi and the split between warring Eastern and Western factions in 2014.

Haftar forces

While reopening the road would be a significant step forward for the internationally supported peace process, major challenges remain for the armed forces, which are still under the control of countless factions, including the forces of Eastern Commander Haftar.

Earlier in the day, Haftar’s forces announced that they had closed the border with Algeria after a major offensive in the south.

The reopening of the coastal road այլ other conditions of the ceasefire, which were agreed upon after the collapse of Haftar’s 14-month attack in Tripoli in September, was planned to take place months in advance.

Haftar, right, meeting with French President Emanuel Macron [File: Etienne Laurent/Pool/Reuters]

However, although flights resumed through the eastern city of Benghazi in Tripoli, some prisoners were released, but the road on the front line remained closed.

Western Libyan forces refused to open it until another condition of the ceasefire was met: the removal of powerful foreign mercenaries rooted around the front line.

The ceasefire, the formation of the Government of the National Unity of Dubai, was agreed with the support of the United Nations, through negotiations with the support of the international community.

The process is expected to end with elections, but neither the participants in the UN talks nor the divided, eastern parliament have agreed on a constitutional basis for continuing the vote, opening up possible challenges to its legitimacy.





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