Libya officials say over 100 eastern war prisoners released

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    Authorities said CAIRO (AP) – Forces in western Libya on Wednesday released more than 100 prisoners who were caught fighting under the banner of the country’s eastern commander at the behest of reconciliation following recent allegations.

    Commander Khalifa Hifter’s troops were freed in the coastal city of Zavia in a televised ceremony attended by senior officials of the newly appointed transitional government.

    After several years of fighting between rival governments in the East and West, President of the Council of President Mohamed Younis Menafi called it an “important step” towards the national reconciliation initiative launched by the Council.

    The released people were seen wearing traditional white uniforms and hats at the ceremony at a football stadium before seeing their families again.

    Mustafa al-Kony, the deputy head of the President’s Council, called for the release of all Libyan war prisoners.

    In April 2019, Hifter’s army launched an aggressive campaign to try and capture Tripoli, but the campaign collapsed last June.

    The warring parties reached a cease-fire agreement in October that ended the war and paved the way for UN-led political negotiations. Those negotiations were followed by the appointment of an interim government in February, which was preceded by elections later this year.

    Oil-rich Libya plunged into chaos following the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that killed longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi. For years the country has been divided between two governments, one in the east and the other in the west, each supported by a vast array of militias as well as foreign powers.

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