U.N. hopes Libyan factions come closer to unity government deal

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya and Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Bernardino Leon (R), speaks during talks with Libyan political leaders and rivals in Algiers, March 10, 2015. (Reuters)

The United Nations hopes Libya's rival factions will come closer in the coming days to reaching a deal on a unity government for the troubled oil producer, a U.N. special envoy said on Friday.

Western leaders say the U.N. talks are the only way to end the chaos in Libya, where two rival governments and armed factions are battling for control and Islamist militants have gained ground in the resulting mayhem.

Both sides have attacked each other with war planes in the past few days, but U.N. Special Envoy Bernardino Leon said he hoped the factions would make progress on an accord to form a unity government over the coming three days.

"By Sunday, we would like to have these documents ready and, if possible, published," he told reporters in Morocco at the start of the latest round of negotiations.

He was referring to a framework deal not only on a possible government but also on local ceasefires for frontlines across the North African country. He gave no details and did not say whether he expected the warring factions to sign an agreement.

Diplomats are under no illusions that moderates attending the talks for both sides will face difficulties in persuading hardliners to accept any deal.

Both sides face internal divisions and are dominated by former rebels who helped oust autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, but who now use their weapons to fight for territory.

Leon said a militant attack killing 23 people in Tunis on Wednesday, claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), might push the Libyan factions towards an accord.

"In the last days, we have seen more fighting, more air strikes... not only in Libya but also in the region" Leon said.

"There is a sense of emergency so we believe this is going to be a decisive moment," he said.

The two gunmen who attacked a Tunisian museum on Wednesday, killing foreign tourists, had trained at a jihadist camp in Libya, Tunisia said on Thursday.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46
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