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Libya's UN-backed government announces ceasefire, calls for end to oil blockade

Highlights

GNA calls for immediate Libyan ceasefire

Follows deal for some exports from eastern ports

London — Libya's UN-backed government, which only controls the western part of the country, announced an immediate ceasefire Aug. 21, raising the prospect of a restart to the country's oil production and exports.

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The head of the Government of National Accord, or GNA, issued instructions to "all military forces to immediately cease fire and all combat operations in all Libyan territories," Al-Jazeera and other regional press reported, citing a statement from GNA leader Fayez al-Sarraj.

The GNA also called for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held in March, and for an end to an oil blockade imposed by rival forces since earlier this year, according to the reports.

A spokesperson for state-oil company National Oil Corporation was not immediately available for comment.

The ceasefire comes days after UN-mediated talks in Geneva in the week started Aug. 16 and after the Petroleum Facilities Guard, or PFG, of Libya's eastern oil terminals said it would reopen key oil ports to allow exports of some barrels from storage.

The eastern-PFG is loyal to the Libyan National Army, or LNA, and its leader, Khalifa Haftar. Naji al-Maghrabi, the head of the eastern-PFG, has said that Haftar had approved the reopening of five ports: Es Sider, Ras Lanuf, Zueitina, Marsa el-Hariga, and Brega.

The North African oil producer has been wracked by conflict between the UN-backed GNA and the LNA that has almost completely halted oil output.

On Jan. 18, eastern tribes, supported by the LNA, halted exports from five key oil terminals, which dramatically reduced the country's crude production, with most of the crude that was exported being loaded directly from Mediterranean offshore fields.

Crude production in Libya, which holds Africa's largest crude reserves, has been slashed from more than 1.1 million b/d before the blockade to around 70,000-110,000 b/d in the past few months.