The council has agreed unanimously to follow through on Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ recent proposal for up to 60 monitors to join an existing political mission in Libya.

Security forces stand guard before the arrival of Libya's new Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh, in Sirte, Libya, March 8, 2021.
Security forces stand guard before the arrival of Libya's new Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh, in Sirte, Libya, March 8, 2021. (Reuters)

The United Nations Security Council has given the green light for the deployment of 60 UN ceasefire monitors to Libya and called on the country's new unity government to prepare for free, fair and inclusive elections on December 24.

A ceasefire in Libya has held since the autumn, but the main road across the front lines from Sirte to Misrata remains closed. The Security Council unanimously approved Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' proposal for the deployment of the monitors.

"The monitors would be deployed to Sirte once all the requirements for a permanent United Nations presence have been met, including security, logistical, medical and operational aspects," Guterres wrote to the council on April 7.

"In the meantime, forward presence would be established in Tripoli, as soon as conditions permit," he said.

Libya's unity government was sworn in on March 15 from two warring administrations that had ruled eastern and western regions, completing a smooth transition of power after a decade of violent chaos.

In the resolution adopted on Friday, the Security Council stressed the "full, equal and meaningful participation of women and the inclusion of youth" in the elections.

READ MORE: Libya authorities release scores of captured pro-Haftar fighters

Security Council urges countries to support ceasefire

Libya descended into chaos after the NATO-backed overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country was then divided in 2014 between the internationally recognised government in the west and warlord Khalifa Haftar's eastern-based forces.

READ MORE: Haftar militia commander wanted by ICC shot dead in Libya

Haftar is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia, while the government is backed by Turkey.

The Security Council also strongly urged countries to respect and support the ceasefire, including through the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya "without delay," and demanded full compliance with its arms embargo on Libya.

READ MORE: Libya seeks 'immediate' withdrawal of foreign mercenaries

Wagner mercenaries

Russia's Wagner mercenaries, sent to Libya to support Haftar and accused of lacing civilian areas with deadly booby traps when pulling out of Tripoli last year, remain entrenched around Sirte and other parts of the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last year that if there are Russians in Libya, they are not representing or paid by his government.

READ MORE: A violation of sovereignty: UN says 20,000 foreign fighters exist in Libya

Source: Reuters