Rival Libya factions reject UN deal but promise unity government

Heads of rival Libyan parliaments meet in Valletta, say unity government ‘can be formed’

Celebrations in Tripoli at the announcement of a unity government deal brokered in Malta.
Celebrations in Tripoli at the announcement of a unity government deal brokered in Malta.
The president of the internationally recognised Libyan House of Representatives (Council of Deputies) Aguila Saleh Issa and the president of the Islamist-controlled General National Congress Nuri A.M. Abusahmin
The president of the internationally recognised Libyan House of Representatives (Council of Deputies) Aguila Saleh Issa and the president of the Islamist-controlled General National Congress Nuri A.M. Abusahmin

The leaders of Libya’s rival parliaments rejected the UN deal for a unity government but pledged to solve the crisis afflicting the oil-rich country.

Speaking in Valletta following an surprise meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office in Valletta, the president of the internationally recognised Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh Issa and the president of the Islamist-controlled General National Congress Nuri Abusahmin insisted that a government of national unity “can be formed”.

“We want to form a unity government but we don’t want it to be enforced from the outside. This government must be agreed to by all the Libyan people. We don’t want an [outside] intervention if this comes against the will of our people,” Issa said in clear reference to the UN brokered deal.

On his part, Abusahmin said that the two sides had agreed on many points, including a commitment to fight terrorism.

“The talks are not about the GNC or the HoR but about unifying the country. We agreed on national points and we stand against terrorism. We are proud to be members of the United Nations,” Abusahmin said. He added that Sharia law “is the one we will hold on to”.

Starting tomorrow, a number of committees will meet to pave the way forward for a government of national unity.

“Details” such as how a new parliament will be formed will be discussed during these meetings. “Good results are expected,” they added.

“We ask our people to be patient for the sake of Libya. All the people and the world wants stability in Libya … we tell them that this problem will be solved,” Issa said.

Delivering a strong message to the Libyan people that “a solution will be found”, Abusahmin said that those who obstruct dialogue “will be punished”.

The two leaders had words of thanks for the Maltese government for giving them the opportunity to meet in Malta.

Abdusahmin said that they will listen to the “elite leaders in Libya” and the people. He urged the international community to take note of the progress made to give them the space to set up a government of national unity that is “effective”.

They also reiterated that the work of the UN mission in Libya is about supporting and facilitating an agreement.

Late on Friday night, both the Tobruk and Tripoli authorities made known their wish to the Maltese government that the presidents of the two parliaments wanted to meet in Malta on Saturday.

However, afrter having the request accepted by the Maltese government accepted the Tobruk delegation cancelled their participation in the eleventh hour.

Libya’s rival factions have given themselves just two days to reach a UN-backed national unity government agreement designed to end their conflict.

The target date was agreed on under the auspices of UN envoy Martin Kobler, who has met with representatives of the two rival parliaments of Tobruk and Tripoli.

A deal was close several times over the past year of UN-brokered talks but has always fallen at the final hurdle.

The UN says forming a unified Libyan government is a precondition for tackling the Libyan branch of ISIS, which has profited from the chaos in Libya to build a position there.

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