Libya agrees on forming new unity government

Previous deals to ensure a ceasefire and restore stability to the war-torn country have fallen apart

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Libya has agreed to form a new national government headed by Prime Minister Fayez el-Sarraj after months of tortuous negotiations, United Nations envoy Bernardino Leon said on Friday.

Libya, which plunged into chaos after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, has had two rival parliaments vying for power as well as several groups battling for control of the country’s vast resource wealth.

The internationally recognized government of Abdullah al-Thani has been working out of the small eastern port of Tobruk near the Egyptian border since a militia alliance, including Islamists, captured Tripoli last year.

“After a year of work on this process, after working with more than 150 Libyan personalities from all the regions, finally the moment has come in which we can propose a national unity government,” Leon told a news conference in Morocco.

Previous deals to ensure a ceasefire and restore stability to the war-torn country have fallen apart and officials from both sides expressed skepticism after the announcement.

But Leon said the new government, which will include three deputy prime ministers - one each from the west, east and south of the country - and add another member to the now six-person presidential council, would survive.

“Far too many Libyans have lost their lives and so many mothers have suffered. Today, nearly 2.4 million Libyans need humanitarian aid,” he said.

“We believe (this government) can succeed. The Libyans must seize this historic opportunity to save Libya.”

Years of chaos in Libya has turned it into a hub for human-trafficking gangs, which have fuelled Europe’s huge migrantion crisis by sending thousands of people on the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.

More than 3,000 people have died or are feared drowned after trying to make the crossing since the start of this year, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini welcomed the announcement from Libya, and pledged some 100 million euros ($110 million) in support for the new government.

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