On Sunday, Libya’s interim authorities reopened the Mediterranean coastal roadway that connects the country’s long-divided eastern and western capitals, in the latest attempt to reconcile the country after years of civil war. It comes just three days before Germany and the United Nations conduct an international meeting on Libya in Berlin.
Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah addressed a crowd assembled as bulldozers pulled away boulders and sand blocking the road, “I am so thrilled to participate in the inauguration of this critical lifeline linking the east of our country to the west.”
The coastal route has been closed since April 2019, when Khalifa Hifter, a military leader stationed in the east, started a military effort to seize Tripoli from the United Nations-recognized government. The United Nations had long demanded that it be reopened to allow for the safe transit of persons and commodities.
The move was praised by the US embassy in Libya, which said in a tweet that it was “paving the way for Libyans to have full responsibility over their own affairs.” Libyan delegates elected Dbeibah as interim prime minister and a four-member presidential council at a United Nations-sponsored meeting in February.
They’ll be in charge of leading the country to national elections later this year. The restoration of traffic along the Libyan Mediterranean coast comes amid tensions between interim authorities and Hifter’s forces.
Hifter’s self-styled Libyan Arab Armed Forces announced on Saturday the deployment of extra troops in the mostly lawless south, as well as the closure of the western border with Algeria, in order to battle terrorism. Libya’s presidential council retaliated by ordering the deployment of their own troops to the south.