The two sides in the long and bloody civil war in Libya have agreed to a complete and permanent ceasefire. The UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the capital Tripoli, and the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Khalifa Haftar and based in the country’s east signed the agreement at the United Nations in Geneva.

However, due to a number of factors, including the multitude of nations involved in the civil war, there is still concern that that ceasefire will not last.  

The two sides agreed to a complete, countrywide and permanent agreement with immediate effect, said the United Nations acting special envoy Stephanie Williams, who chaired the negotiations. The discussions were held between five military officers from each side representing after meetings earlier this month in Egypt.

The agreement calls for frontline forces to return to their bases and for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries by January 23. Additionally, any agreements or contracts that either side has struck with foreign fighters must be suspended until a unified government can be established. The process will be monitored by the United Nations.

Both sides have utilized foreign fighters or mercenaries. Williams stated that fighters from at least nine different countries have been involved in the war.

The ceasefire does not include the fighters from the Islamic State (ISIS) who are located mainly in the south.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres praised the agreement and said it was a “fundamental step” toward ending the conflict.

“I welcome the signing of a ceasefire agreement by the Libyan parties in Geneva today, under the auspices of the United Nations. This is a fundamental step towards peace and stability in Libya. I congratulate the parties for putting the interests of their nation ahead of their differences. I appeal to all stakeholders and regional actors to respect the provisions of the cease-fire agreement, and ensure its implementation without delay. And I call on the international community to support Libyans in implementing the cease-fire, and then bringing an end to the conflict. The United Nations will continue to support the Libyan parties in the search for lasting peace in their country.”