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Libya reaches historic ceasefire between UN-backed government and Eastern forces2 minutes read

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) welcomed the truce and urged the warring parties “to strictly abide by the ceasefire.”

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Spokesperon of Libya’s Government of National Accord Colonel Mohamed Ghnouno holds a press conference in Tripoli, Libya on April 07, 2019. (Photo by Hazem Turkia/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) and the eastern forces loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar have announced a ceasefire that will commence at midnight on January 12, a statement from both sides said on Sunday.

Haftar’s forces had on Saturday announced a ceasefire in the western region, which includes the capital Tripoli, starting 00:01 a.m. on Sunday (22:01 GMT) and the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) agreed to the truce a day after, media reports said.

Since April, Libyan National Army forces loyal to Haftar have been waging a campaign to take Tripoli, where they are battling forces aligned with the GNA.

In a statement posted online early on Sunday, the Tripoli based GNA said: “In response to the Turkish president and the Russian president’s call for a ceasefire, the head of the Presidency Council of the Government of National Accord announces a ceasefire starting 00:00 on Jan. 12,” a Reuters report said.

While the LNA had on Thursday rebuffed a call by Turkey and Russia for a ceasefire in a conflict that is drawing increasing foreign involvement and concern, LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari said in a video statement late on Saturday that the LNA accepted a truce in the west “provided that the other party abides by the ceasefire.”

He warned that “any breach will be met with a harsh response”.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) welcomed the truce and urged the warring parties “to strictly abide by the ceasefire and make a room for peaceful efforts to address all disputes through a Libyan-Libyan dialogue”.

Turkey backs the Tripoli-based GNA headed by Fayez al-Serraj, while Russian military contractors have been deployed alongside the eastern forces.

A senior GNA official said on Thursday that it welcomed any credible ceasefire proposal but had a duty to protect Libyans from Haftar’s offensive.

Any ceasefire will likely be hard to uphold after a recent escalation in fighting around Tripoli and the strategic coastal city of Sirte and given the fractious, loose nature of Libya’s military alliances.

Forces loyal to Haftar said this week they had taken control of Sirte in a rapid advance preceded by air strikes.

Earlier on Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Libyan peace talks will be held in Berlin, adding that Libya’s warring parties would need to play a major role to help find a solution

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UN condemns use of IEDs against civilians in Libya

“UNSMIL strongly condemns these acts, which serve no military objective, provoke extreme fear among the population, and violate the rights of innocent civilians…,” the UN said.

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A man inspects the wreckage of a car outside the Khadra General Hospital which is dedicated to treating people infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Libyan capital Tripoli on April 8, 2020, after it was targeted by forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has condemned the use of improvised explosive devices against civilians in the southern part of Tripoli, as the armed conflict between the east-based army and the UN-backed government continues.

UNSMIL “is extremely concerned about reports that residents of the Ain Zara and Salahuddin areas of Tripoli have been killed or wounded by improvised explosive devices placed in or near their homes,” UNSMIL said in a statement Monday.

“UNSMIL strongly condemns these acts, which serve no military objective, provoke extreme fear among the population, and violate the rights of innocent civilians who must be protected under international humanitarian law,” the statement said.

UNSMIL called on all individuals to “seek information and heed security advice to stay away from areas that have not been declared safe to enter by a competent authority or items of unknown origin which may be explosive devices”.

UNSMIL also commended the search and clearance work by Libyan Police and Military Engineers, reaffirming its continued support to Libyan partners, communities, and stakeholders “who are working tirelessly to rid Libya of the threat of explosive remnant of war (ERW)”.

The UN-backed government’s forces accused the rival east-based army of planting mines before withdrawing from conflict areas in southern Tripoli.

Since April 2019, the east-based army has been leading a military campaign attempting to take over Tripoli and topple the UN-backed government.

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Strike looms as public sector wage dispute enters arbitration in South Africa

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The ongoing face-off between workers in the public sector and the South African government continues. According to the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC), disagreement between the trade unions and government has moved the talks to arbitration for further hearing.

PSCBC General Secretary, Frikkie De Bruin explains that the arbitration hearings will begin by mid-June. An arbitrator will issue an award after the hearings are complete, with the matter potentially heading to court or resulting in a strike if the unions aren’t happy.

Ordinarily, public sector workers make up a third of South Africa’s expenditure. But with the coronavirus lockdown and income reduction, Pretoria seems unwilling to incur more debt.

If not handled carefully to appease the workers, the ruling African National Congress, (ANC) could lose its political dominance in the next local elections.

If no resolution is reached and the workers decide to resolve it an industrial action, it could erode all effort made by the government in the fight against the coronavirus.

The dispute started in February when the government affirmed that it could not fulfil its 2018 agreement on a three-year wage agreement.

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Ethiopia to divest 40% of Ethio Telecom

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The Ethiopian government is finalizing plans to sell a 40 percent stake in Ethio Telecom- the country’s sole telecommunication provider . The plan was announced by Ethiopia’s State Minister of Finance, Eyob Tekalign Tolina.

Ethiopia’s telecommunication industry is considered one of the last closed markets. It has been one of the government’s plans to liberalize the country’s economy launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Ethio Telecom has a large market serving a population of around 110 million.

The government will retain ownership of the remaining 60 percent.

Foreign firms in the telecom sector will be invited to bid and a percentage of the minority stake will be sold to Ethiopian citizens. South Africa’s MTN and Kenya’s Safaricom have shown interest in expanding into Ethiopia in the past.

Ethiopia’s communications regulator says the country would proceed with the privatisation of the telecommunications sector despite the novel coronavirus outbreak.

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