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Libya’s rival governments start UN-backed talks in Egypt

Published: Updated:

Representatives of Libya’s two rival governments began talks in Egypt on Wednesday aimed at reaching agreement on holding national elections, the United Nations Mission in Libya said.

Libya has had two competing governments since March when the eastern-based parliament appointed Fathi Bashagha to replace the Tripoli-based prime minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, renewing a standoff between the east and west of the country.

Dbeibah, who was chosen as interim prime minister a year ago in UN-backed talks, has refused to cede power to Bashagha.

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“The ultimate solution to the issues that continue to plague Libya is through elections, held on a solid constitutional basis and electoral framework that provides the guard rails for an electoral process,” UN Libya adviser Stephanie Williams told the opening session of the talks in Cairo.

Williams, supported by Western countries, has been seeking to resolve a political impasse since a scheduled election collapsed days before the vote was due to take place in December, amid arguments over the rules.

Delegates from the eastern-based parliament and the Tripoli-based High State Council named 12 members of each chamber to participate in the talks, which parliament spokesman Abdullah Belhaiq said will continue until April 20.

The parliament, elected in 2014, is recognized internationally through a 2015 political agreement that also recognized the High State Council as a legislative chamber formed from members of a previous parliament elected in 2012.

The planned election is part of a UN-endorsed peace process aimed at ending a decade of chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi and reunifying the country.

“You have a critical role to play in making your voice heard in support of your 2.8 million fellow Libyan citizens who have registered to vote,” Williams said.

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