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Dialogue between Libya's rival parliaments to resume

A national dialogue between Libya’s warring parliaments will resume in Morocco on Thursday, according to Libyan politicians involved in the talks.

In recent days, the UN Special Envoy to Libya Benardino Leon has shuttled between representatives of both parliaments in an attempt to jumpstart talks.

While the House of Representatives (HoR) has agreed to return to the dialogue, the body reportedly made several conditions for its return. Among the reported conditions, the HoR has demanded that the international community accept that it is Libya’s only legitimate parliament and acknowledge that the Libyan army is fighting terrorism and that it has final say over any unity government that emerges from the dialogue, the Libya Herald reported.

On Monday, following a meeting with Leon, a Tripoli-based General National Congress representative Saleh al-Makhzoum announced that the GNC would participate in the talks in Morocco.

“The GNC backs national dialogue as a way out of the Libyan crisis,” al-Makhzoum said in a press briefing.

News of the resumption of the talks comes house after the speaker of the HoR appointed military commander Khalifa Haftar as commander-in-chief of the Libyan army.

Haftar, who is waging a military offensive against Islamist forces in Benghazi, is expected to be sworn in as army chief on Tuesday or Wednesday, according to HoR MP Tareq al-Garrouchi.

Fajr Libya, a coalition of forces that seized Tripoli and backs the GNC, has rejected any political settlement that includes Haftar.

The talks between the GNC and HoR had been scheduled to restart last week, but the HoR suspended its participation after triple suicide bombing in the eastern city of al-Qubbah killed 42 people and wounded at least 70 on 20 February.

The Islamic State group later took responsibility for the attack, which struck a gas station, a police station and Qubbah’s council headquarters.

Demonstrators in Benghazi took to the streets after the bombings, calling for the Libyan Army to take control and for the international community to life a ban on arms sales to the army. They also called for army general Khalifa Haftar to be named commander in chief of the country’s army.

In Tripoli, supporters of Fajr Libya, a militia group allied to the GNC also protested after the bombings, condemning Egypt’s recent airstrikes on Derna.

Libya has remained in a state of turmoil since a bloody uprising ended the decades-long rule of autocratic leader Muammar Gaddafi in late 2011.

Since then, the country’s sharp political divisions have yielded two rival seats of government, each with its own institutions.

Vying for legislative authority are a Tobruk-based parliament and an Islamist-led parliament, the latter of which – even though its mandate ended last year – continues to convene in Tripoli.

The two assemblies support the two different governments, respectively headquartered in the two cities.

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