Powers back unity government in Libya to deter ISIL

Powers back unity government in Libya to deter ISIL

ROME - Reuters
Powers back unity government in Libya to deter ISIL

AFP photo

Global powers on Dec. 13 backed the formation of a national unity government in Libya, pledging economic and security support to help stabilise the chaotic North African country where Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants have a foothold.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni, joined by U.N. envoy Martin Kobler, were optimistic that the majority of the representatives of Libya's two rival governments would sign a unity deal on Dec. 16. 

Representatives from 17 countries including Egypt, Germany, Russia, Turkey, and China signed a joint statement calling for an immediate ceasefire and promising to cut off contacts with factions that do not sign the deal. 

Fifteen Libyans from different groups also attended the meeting. Past deadlines have slipped amid internal disagreements in the sprawling, oil-producing country rife with armed groups. 

"We stand ready to support the implementation of the political agreement and underline our firm commitment to providing the Government of National Accord with full political backing and technical, economic, security and counter-terrorism assistance, as requested," the statement said. 

Both Kerry and Gentiloni, who co-chaired the meeting, appeared confident a deal was around the corner, and stressed that a unity government was needed also to fight the growing threat from ISIL militants. 

"The message of today's meeting is clear," Gentiloni said. "What matters is the stablisation of Libya because this too can contribute to the fight against terrorism." 

Libya has sunk deeper and deeper into chaos since a Western-backed rebellion toppled Muammar Gaddafi four years ago. 

The OPEC member now has two rival governments and two parliaments each backed by competing armed factions. Divisions over the U.N. deal are raising questions about how opponents will react to any new government in the capital Tripoli. 

Former colonial power Italy has sought to focus international attention on the OPEC country's drift towards anarchy, particularly since last month's deadly ISIL attacks in Paris. Libya is less than 300 km (190 miles) across the Mediterranean Sea from the Italian island of Lampedusa.