Libyan factions sign UN deal

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Delegates from Libya’s warring factions have signed a UN-brokered agreement to form a national government, a deal that Western powers hope will bring stability and help fight a growing Islamic State presence.

Four years after Muammar Gaddafi’s fall, Libya is deeply fractured with two rival governments – a self-declared one in Tripoli and an internationally recognised one in the east – each backed by coalitions of former rebels and militias.

The UN deal calls for a presidential council to lead a unified government, but hardliners in both factions reject it and questions remain about how it will be implemented in country where rival armed factions are key to power.

Chants of ‘Libya, Libya’ erupted as representatives from both parliaments on Thursday signed the accord along with local councils and political parties in the Moroccan coastal town of Skhirat, after more than a year of hard-scrabble negotiations.

‘The doors remain wide open to those who are not here today,’ UN envoy Martin Kobler said at the ceremony attended by regional foreign ministers. ‘The signing of the political agreement is only the first step.’

Western officials believe war fatigue, promises of foreign aid, the strain on Libya’s oil economy and the common threat of Islamic State will help build momentum for the national government and bring on board opponents.

Under the deal, a nine-member presidential council will form a government with the current, eastern-based House of Representatives as the main legislative and a State Council as a second consultative chamber.

The presidential council will name a new government in a month and a UN Security Council resolution will endorse it.

But the agreement faces questions about how representative the proposed government will be, how it will set up in Tripoli and how various armed factions on the ground will react to a government critics say was imposed on Libya.

The chiefs of each rival parliament already rejected the UN deal and called for more time to negotiate a Libyan initiative though diplomats say both men may face international sanctions for blocking a vote on the agreement.

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