UN Geneva Libyan talks
© AFP
Talks between Libyan factions at the UN Geneva offices, October 20, 2020
Warring factions in Libya have agreed to a "permanent" ceasefire following talks, the United Nations said on Friday. The agreement came after five days of discussions in Geneva between representatives of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).

Stephanie Williams, head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) announced:
"The Libyan parties have reached a permanent ceasefire agreement throughout Libya. This achievement represents an important turning point towards peace and stability in Libya" and "the departure of all mercenaries and foreign fighters from all Libyan territories, land, air and sea, within a maximum period of three months from today. The ceasefire does not apply to UN-designated terrorist groups."
The signing of the agreement on Friday, which comes after accelerated discussions around a ceasefire in recent weeks, lasted about 10 minutes and was followed by a round of applause. Ali Abushahma, the head of the delegation for the GNA, said:
"We have had enough suffering, enough bloodshed... we hope we will change the suffering on all the territories of Libya, especially in the south. I appeal to all Libya: Be one hand."
Libya has been in a state of unrest since the overthrow of former ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Since then, different actors have vied for power in the North African state, with numerous foreign powers weighing into back opposing sides.

The country's capital Tripoli in the west is held by the GNA, while eastern commander Khalifa Haftar's LNA rules the east alongside another administration.

Haftar launched an offensive on Tripoli in April 2019 - backed by Russia, the UAE and Egypt - but was driven back earlier this year after Turkey intervened to support the GNA.

According to UNSMIL, the rival groups agreed to form a joint military force under a unified command.