African Union calls for restraint in Libya following clashes in Tripoli

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - FEBRUARY 11: African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat attends the closing session of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Summit held at African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 11, 2019. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The African Union (AU) appealed to rival factions in Libya to exercise restraint following clashes between armed groups loyal to Libya’s rival governments.

Clashes erupted on Thursday between rival armed groups in central Tripoli, according to reports by local media, and at least 16 people have been killed and 52 others wounded in the fighting that also took place in Misurata, the seat of the country’s other rival leader.

FILE PHOTO: A picture showing a damaged house in Tripoli, Libya. /Xinhua

In a statement released late on Saturday, AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat urged the warring parties to “silence their guns by refraining from all forms of violence in deference to the yearnings of the Libyan People for peace.”

“The Chairperson deplores the loss of life resulting from yesterday’s clashes between rival armed groups and emphasizes that the security of civilians is an obligation under International Humanitarian Law,” the statement added.

Mahamat also appealed to all stakeholders to redouble their efforts towards finding amicable solutions to the current crisis, and to place the interest of the country and its people.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the U.S. government have also spoken out against the escalation of violence in the country following months of a political stalemate.

Libya, which has been unstable since 2011 following the ouster of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, had been due to hold national elections in December but the collapse of the process pushed the country back into a political crisis amid serious economic challenges.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)