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Libya parliament chief throws U.N. deal into doubt

After the fall of Muammar Qaddafi, world powers have been pressuring Libya’s two rival administrations to form a unity government

Published: Updated:

The president of the Libyan parliament that is not recognized by the international community said Wednesday that lawmakers preparing to sign a U.N.-sponsored unity government agreement in Morocco had no legitimacy.

Four years after the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi, world powers have been pressuring the North African nation’s two rival administrations to form a unity government amid concerns about the rise of the ISIS group there.

Libyan parliamentarians are due in the Moroccan resort of Skhirat on Thursday to sign the deal in a ceremony a Moroccan diplomat said would take place at 1100 GMT.

But Nouri Abusahmein, who heads the militia-backed General National Congress in Tripoli, said the signatories would have no legitimacy.

“Whoever has not been commissioned by the GNC to sign or initial a deal on its behalf is, and will remain, without legitimacy,” he said before the GNC in the capital.

A government such as that proposed by the U.N. “is not the subject of consensus and does not even guarantee the minimum required to ensure its effectiveness”, he added.

Martin Kobler, the U.N. envoy to Libya, said the Moroccan ceremony would proceed as planned.

“A large number of Libyan participants and high-level international participants, including many foreign ministers, have committed to attend,” Kobler said in a statement.

On Tuesday in Malta, Abusahmein met Aguila Saleh who heads the internationally recognized parliament based in Tobruk in the east near the border with Egypt.

It was the first time they had met since the rival administrations were formed in 2014.

At a joint news conference, both men said that those who sign the agreement represent only themselves.

U.N. ‘takes note’

They said Thursday’s signatories, although members of the respective parliaments, would not be acting as official representatives of those bodies.

“I take note of the meeting” between the two men in Malta, Kobler’s statement said.

“The United Nations encourages all Libyan efforts to end the current divisions through inclusive dialogue, and I will continue to actively engage with all Libyans to that end,” he added.

At the beginning of October in Skhirat, delegations from both sides approved a draft agreement negotiated under the auspices of the U.N., but it was later rejected by their parliaments.