– SABC news
The head of Libya’s unity government on Sunday declared the main coast road across its inactive front line reopened, but eastern-based forces allowed no traffic through, underscoring unresolved divisions that threaten a fragile peace process.
Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh used a mechanical digger to remove the earth roadblock at the last western checkpoint on the highway.
Across the front line further down the road is Sirte.
“Let’s put one goal which is Libya, Libya, Libya. We must work to bring about its security and stability. Libya is for everyone. May God protect Libya and if God is willing we will meet you in Sirte,”
But the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar – which holds most of eastern and southern Libya – did not open the road beyond the front line, and a media unit of the LNA said there was
“no truth to what is rumoured about it reopening.”
Dbeibeh’s convoy headed east towards Sirte but stopped at point nearer LNA positions, where shipping containers and another earthen rampart cut the road, and turned back.
The incident highlights the difficulties facing Dbeibeh, whose government is officially recognized by both sides in Libya and their foreign backers.
“Opening the road will be in a smooth way. We will wait for the reaction of the second part, whether the reaction will include the complete withdrawal of mercenaries from Libyan land and this is what we are seeking to be united from south, east and west,”
said Ibrahim Bait al Mal, head of Sirte-Jafra which supports Dbeibeh’s unity government.
Libya, a major North African oil producer, has had little peace or stability since a NATO-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and a split in 2014 between warring eastern and western factions. Several armed groups still wield power in different areas.
A ceasefire agreed in September after Haftar’s 14-month assault on Tripoli collapsed, called for the coast road to reopen and all foreign mercenaries to leave the front line area, but they remain entrenched in and around LNA-held Sirte.
International authorities are due to meet in Berlin on Wednesday to discuss the crisis and progress towards unifying the country’s fragmented institutions and holding elections planned for December.