Libyan Authorities Free 100 Khalifa Haftar's Militia Fighters

Published April 1st, 2021 - 08:16 GMT
Prisoners of war, loyal to the forces of Libya's eastern military strongman Khalifa Haftar
Prisoners of war, loyal to the forces of Libya's eastern military strongman Khalifa Haftar, are pictured upon their release by the new Libyan unity government on March 31, 2021 in the port city of Zawiya, 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of the Libyan capital Tripoli, following the latest peace deal between the North African country's former rival governments. The two sides have completed more than one prisoner swap this year as Libya's eastern administration officially handed over power to a new executive that is meant to unify the war-torn country and steer it towards elections late this year. The Government of National Unity (GNU), selected through a UN-supported process, is the latest internationally backed bid to end a decade of chaos in the North African nation and unite rival administrations. Mahmud TURKIA / AFP
Highlights
Musa al Koni, a member of the three-man Presidency Council representing southern Libya, called for the release of prisoners held in eastern and southern areas.

Authorities in western Libya have released more than 100 prisoners who had been captured while fighting under the banner of the country's eastern-based warlord, in a gesture of reconciliation following recent accords, officials said.

The militia fighters of warlord Khalifa Haftar, were freed in the coastal town of Zawiya on Wednesday in a ceremony attended by senior officials from the newly-appointed transitional government.

The men had been held since April 2019 when Haftar launched an assault to seize control of the capital, Tripoli, and other areas in the northwest, ending with his retreat last summer.

Those released were seen wearing traditional white uniforms and caps at the ceremony in a soccer stadium, before rejoining their families.

In a speech, Abdallah al Lafi, vice-president of the country's new presidential council, welcomed the move and called for further reconciliation and rebuilding.

"We must not pass on hatred and bitterness to our children," he said.

'National reconciliation'

Libya's warring sides agreed a ceasefire in October in Geneva, and political talks led this month to agreement on a new unity government to replace the two rival administrations that had ruled in east and west.

The process, seen as Libya's best chance in years to end the decade of chaos and violence since the 2011 NATO-backed rising against Muammar Gaddafi, remains fragile with myriad armed groups still wielding control on the ground.

Musa al Koni, a member of the three-man Presidency Council representing southern Libya, called for the release of prisoners held in eastern and southern areas.

"Such joy has no price," said Khalif al Kilan, 92, the father of one of the captives who attended a ceremony in Zawiya, 45 km west of Tripoli, to release them.

"This is the real project for national reconciliation," said Ramadan Ahmed Abujanah, deputy prime minister in the new unity government, addressing the ceremony.

The new transitional executive emerged from a complex UN-sponsored process launched in November, and its members were confirmed by Libya's parliament on March 10.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


Copyright © 2021 TRT World

You may also like