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Rival parliament wants UN Libya talks held in country

Libya’s rival parliament decided on Sunday that it would attend UN-sponsored peace talks only if they were held inside Libya, officials said.

Nearly four years after a NATO-backed revolt ousted Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is in turmoil. Two rival governments and two parliaments are backed by armed factions who Western governments fear may drag the country into civil war.

The UN last week brought factions vying for control of Libya together in Geneva, but key representatives from the self-declared government and associated parliament based in Tripoli stayed away.

The Tripoli assembly, known as the General National Congress (GNC), proposed to hold the talks in the remote southern city of Ghat, its spokesman Omar Hmeidan said. “Talks must be in Ghat, not in Geneva.”

GNC member Abduqader Hawaili said 100 of the 110 members attending Sunday’s session of the GNC had voted in favour of the proposal.

The internationally recognised government, under Prime Minister Abdullah Al Thinni, and the elected House of Representatives have operated out of the east since the Libya Dawn faction took over Tripoli in the summer, set up its own government and revived the old parliament, the GNC.

In September, the United Nations held a first round of talks bringing together rival factions in the southern city of Ghadames, but little progress has been made.

Libya’s conflict involves a myriad of militias, factions and armed groups who helped to topple Gaddafi but are loyal above all to local or regional leaders, making any agreement hard to reach or enforce.

Thinni’s government is recognised by the United Nations and Western powers, but the Tripoli administration controls ministries, airports, some oil facilities and much of western Libya.

Meanwhile, Libya’s army announced a ceasefire. “We declare a ceasefire from midnight (2200 GMT) Sunday,” the army said, stressing however that it would continue to pursue “terrorists”.

The army also said it would monitor the situation on the ground “to prevent any change in front lines or transportation of weapons and ammunition,” which it would consider a violation of the truce. Soldiers “have been given the right to defend themselves if they come under fire,” the statement added.

Libyan armed forces spokesman Colonel Ahmed Mesmari said the army was “engaged in pursuing its duty to protect the Libyan people”.

He said the military would “ensure the security and stability of the country and combat terrorism” in Libya.

On Friday, the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) militia alliance said it had agreed to a ceasefire on the condition rival factions respected the truce.


Times of Oman – Agencies

This article was originally published here.

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