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Top UN body demands Libya ceasefire

UNITED NATIONS 

UN Security Council on Wednesday voted to back a ceasefire in Libya, hatch plans for a monitoring mission there and told countries to stop sending arms to the war-ravaged North African oil exporter.

Fourteen nations voted to adopt a resolution that was drafted by the UK and Germany — the first binding text adopted by the 15-nation body since fighting flared last April.

Russia, which is accused of sending mercenaries to Libya, abstained from the vote.

The three-page document tasked UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres with planning for an “effective ceasefire monitoring” mechanism, in what could be a precursor to a costly deployment of UN blue helmets.

Speaking on behalf of European Union states ahead of the vote, Belgium’s Foreign Minister Philippe Goffin said the document sends a “strong and clear message by the international community to the Libyan parties that the conflict in Libya must end”.

“All member states should refrain from exacerbating the conflict and strictly comply with the U.N. arms embargo. The most urgent step is to reach an agreement on a lasting ceasefire,” said Goffin.

Russia’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya told council members after the vote that it was not yet clear that the rival forces fighting in Libya’s multi-militia civil war were ready to put down their guns just yet.

Since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in the east supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and others and another in the capital Tripoli, in the west, which enjoys UN recognition.

Renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which is based in the east, launched an offensive to take Tripoli last April, which led to chaos and bloodshed but stalled on the outskirts of the city.

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