Rival Libyan cities hold first reconciliation meeting in 4 years

Participants attend the reconciliation meeting in Zintan of Libya on March 28, 2018. The Libyan city of Zintan on Wednesday hosted a reconciliation meeting with representatives of the rival city of Misurata for the first time since armed groups from the two cities fought in 2014 in Tripoli. (Xinhua/Hamza Turkia)
Participants attend the reconciliation meeting in Zintan of Libya on March 28, 2018. The Libyan city of Zintan on Wednesday hosted a reconciliation meeting with representatives of the rival city of Misurata for the first time since armed groups from the two cities fought in 2014 in Tripoli. (Xinhua/Hamza Turkia)

The Libyan city of Zintan hosted a reconciliation meeting on Wednesday with representatives of the rival city of Misurata for the first time since armed groups from the two cities fought in 2014 in Tripoli.

The meeting was hosted by the Zintan military council, and was attended by military and tribal representatives of both cities.

"This meeting came after years of war and separation between the two cities. It is time to adopt reconciliation as an option to resolve differences and to deny opportunity for those who want to continue the differences between us," Mukhtar al-Akhdar, an official of the Zintan military council, told Xinhua.

"We have reached the stage of peace and renunciation of violence and weapons. No return to fighting between Libyans. Instead, we will work to promote reconciliation, especially with our brothers in Misurata," al-Akhdar added.

"Our presence today is to show good intentions with our brothers in Zintan. We remember well how they played a major role in the revolution of Feb. 17, 2011," Ibrahim Ben Rajab, head of the Misurata military council, told Xinhua.

Rajab also invited Zintan representatives to attend a similar meeting in Misurata to come up with a road map for reconciliation in the country.

"The people of the city believe that comprehensive national reconciliation leads to the protection of Libya from negative interventions. This meeting is a building block of reconciliation and continuation of Zintan to bridge gaps and support stability efforts between us," Mustafa Al-Baruni, mayor of Zintan, told Xinhua.

"Zintan and Misurata learned the lesson well and will not allow anyone to differentiate between them in the future. There is no way for weapons to resolve any conflict. Instead, we resolve our differences through peaceful dialogue," Al-Baruni added.

Sha'ban al-Marhani, head of the tribal reconciliation committee of Zintan, said that "the Libyan people have reached a stage of hatred for hostility between them, because war and fighting have disrupted life in many cities."

The meeting between Zintan and Misurata is the first of its kind since violence erupted in July 2014 between armed groups from the two cities in Tripoli, which created the current political division in the country.

After a month of fierce fighting that killed and injured hundreds of both side, the Misurata forces took over Tripoli and expelled Zintan forces.

The fighting caused major destruction in the city, mainly the Tripoli International Airport, and also forced all foreign missions and embassies to flee the country.

 

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