Algeria offers mediating role in Libya as UN condemns mass graves

Algeria, which has adopted a neutral stance on the Libyan conflict, says it rejects military intervention.

A member of security forces loyal to Libya's internationally recognised government checks his weapon during a security deployment in Tarhuna city [File: Ismail Zitouny/Reuters]
A member of security forces loyal to Libya's internationally recognised government checks his weapon during a security deployment in Tarhuna city [File: Ismail Zitouny/Reuters]

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has said his country’s position on the situation in Libya is to reject military action and to keep a distance from all the parties involved in the crisis.

In a press interview, Tebboune said Algeria has always considered the Libyan capital, Tripoli, a red line, and that its fall into the hands of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces would have resulted in an all-out civil war, leading to the collapse of the state.

He expressed Algeria’s readiness to sponsor a peace agreement in Libya as it did in Mali, noting that Libyan tribes accept Algerian mediation.

“The solution in Libya is seen in our contribution with Egypt and Tunisia in order to reach an agreement on the crisis,” Tebboune said.

UN horror at mass graves discovery

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a thorough and transparent investigation after mass graves were found in Tarhuna, which was recently recaptured by Libya’s internationally recognised government from Haftar’s forces.

Guterres said he was “deeply shocked” by the discovery of multiple mass graves in recent days, in a statement from his spokesman late on Friday.

“Yesterday, the UN Mission in Libya expressed horror at the reports of at least eight mass graves in past days, the majority of them in Tarhuna,” said Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for Guterres, in a statement late on Friday.

“International law requires that the authorities conduct prompt, effective and transparent investigations into all alleged cases of unlawful deaths, the Mission said,” he added.

Guterres called for Libyan authorities to secure the graves, identify the victims, establish causes of death and return the bodies to the next of kin, and offered UN support to do so.

He repeated calls for the fighting to end in Libya and said he hopes a ceasefire will be agreed upon soon.

Philippe Nassif, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, said the group was working to verify the mass killings. 

“We want to be able to go in, or have the UN go in, and collect evidence of potential war crimes and other atrocities … so eventually a process takes place where justice can be served,” he said. 

The UN said earlier in the week that both the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and the rival Libyan National Army (LNA) were engaging in ceasefire talks led by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

Last week, the GNA’s forces regained control of several areas bordering Tripoli, foiling a 14 months-long campaign by Haftar to seize the city.

LNA forces loyal to Haftar have lost control of a number of strategic towns in the west of the country in recent weeks. Haftar also lost Tarhuna, which lies 65km southeast of Tripoli, his last stronghold in western Libya.

Oil-wealthy Libya has been in turmoil since a 2011 revolt toppled longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi and has since become a battleground for rival proxy forces.

The GNA is allied with Turkey and Qatar, while the LNA is supported by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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