UPDATES WITH LIBYAN PREMIER’s REMARKS, EDITS THROUGHOUT
By Muhammed Artima
TRIPOLI, Libya (AA) – The Libyan government on Sunday reopened the main coastal road linking Libya’s east and west.
"Today, we will close a page on the suffering of the Libyan people. We will take a new step in building, stability, and unity," Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh tweeted on the reopening of the Misrata-Sirte road.
He said the reopening of the road will bring Libyans together “to build and work for the development and prosperity of the country."
The coastal road is an important trade route that has been closed since renegade general Khalifa Haftar's militias launched a failed offensive to capture the capital Tripoli in 2019.
Earlier Sunday, Abdel-Hadi Darah, a spokesman for the Sirte-Jafra Operations Room, told Anadolu Agency that the road will be reopened to give time to Haftar to pull out Russian mercenaries.
"We agreed to open the Misrata-Sirte road, alleviate the suffering of the citizens, and give the second party [Haftar] a deadline to withdraw the Russian Wagner mercenaries," he said.
Wagner mercenaries that support Haftar's forces are stationed in Sirte and its airport.
Darah, however, did not specify how long the strategic road will remain open.
On Oct. 23, the UN announced a permanent cease-fire agreement between Libya’s warring rivals during its facilitated 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission talks in Geneva.
The agreement also called for the withdrawal of all mercenaries from Libya within three months of its signing. The deadline expired on Jan. 23.
Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar in Ankara