24 Libyan municipalities sign up to unity deal

The leaders of 24 Libyan municipalities on Monday signed the U.N.-sponsored agreement on the formation of a national unity government

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The leaders of 24 Libyan municipalities on Monday signed the U.N.-sponsored agreement on the formation of a national unity government, in a move welcomed by U.N. envoy Martin Kobler.

“I’m very happy there are 24 signatures of the Libyan political agreement by mayors. This is a good sign,” Kobler told reporters after a meeting at Gammarth in Tunisia.

Lawmakers from Libya’s two rival parliaments, as well as other political figures, last Thursday in Morocco signed a deal on a unity government despite opposition on both sides.

The signing went ahead despite a warning from the heads of the parliaments that the deal has no legitimacy and the politicians signing the agreement represented only themselves.

The heads of the two bodies instead back an alternative inter-Libyan accord signed early this month in Tunis.

On Thursday, Kobler acknowledged that much remained to be done to end the turmoil in Libya that has allowed jihadists and people-smugglers to flourish since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

He called the signing ceremony “just the beginning of a long journey for Libya.”

“It’s very important that municipalities become part of the Libyan political agreement which was signed in Skhirat three days ago,” Kobler said on Monday, emphasizing the provision of basic services.

Municipal signatories included the cities of Sabratha near Tripoli, Zintan to the west, Al-Baida in the northeast but also Misrata, an AFP journalist said.

The core of Fajr Libya, a coalition of Islamist militias that backs the non-recognized parliament in Tripoli, is in Misrata some 200 kilometers (120 miles) east of the capital.

“People need clean water and need electricity and a strong government can deliver this,” Kobler said.

“That’s why I asked the mayors to go back to their municipalities and to tell their people to support the agreement in order to have electricity, to have water, to have functional hospitals and schools.”

He also stressed that the door remained open for others to sign the agreement.

In an interview with AFP on Sunday, Kobler said his team is in contact with security officials in Tripoli to ensure that the new unity government can operate safely from the capital.

“We hope to have an agreement with everybody -- the regular army, the regular police but also militias,” he said.

Kobler told AFP that the U.N. Security Council would vote on a resolution to recognize the new government as “the sole legitimate authority” in Libya.