Libya’s rival parliaments sign unity government deal

Libya’s rival parliaments sign unity government deal

SKHIRAT – The Associated Press
Libya’s rival parliaments sign unity government deal

In this handout picture released by the media office of the Libyan Armed Forces, General Khalifa Haftar (R), commander of the armed forces loyal of the internationallyrecognized Libyan government, shakes hands with UN envoy Martin Kobler, the head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, in the eastern town of al-Marj, about 80 km east of the Mediterranean port city of Benghazi, on December 16, 2015. AFP Photo

Members of Libya’s rival parliaments have signed Dec. 17 a U.N.-sponsored deal on forming a unity government, aiming to bring peace to the war-ravaged country.

Supporters of the agreement hope that rival political factions and militias will embrace the deal and agree on a cease-fire, so that they can fend off the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISL) extremist group, which is expanding its gains in the country.

U.N. envoy Martin Kobler acknowledged that much remained to be done to end the turmoil that has allowed jihadists and people-smugglers to flourish since the fall of Gadhafi.

“This is just the beginning of a long journey for Libya. Signing is only the first step on the road to putting Libya back on the right track,” Agence France-Presse quoted Kobler as saying at the ceremony.

“The door is always open to those who are not here today. The new government must move urgently to address the concerns of those who feel marginalized.”

Libya slid into chaos following the 2011 toppling and killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Since then, it has been torn between an internationally recognized government, based in the east, and an Islamist-backed government in the capital, Tripoli.

It also faces threats from ISIL extremists.

But the agreement, signed in Morocco on Dec. 17, has detractors on both sides who seek a separate deal without U.N. involvement.

It comes despite a warning from the heads of the parliaments that the deal has no legitimacy and the politicians signing the agreement represent only themselves.