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Libyan factions sign deal to form unity government


Libyan President Mohammed Magarief

Libyan President Mohammed Magarief

DELEGATES from Libya’s warring factions have signed a U.N.-brokered agreement to form a national unity government, a deal that African and Western leaders hope will bring stability and help to combat a growing Islamic State presence.

Four years after the ousting of Libyan former President Muammar Gaddafi, the country is deeply fractured, with a self-declared government in Tripoli and an internationally recognised one in the east, each backed by coalitions of former rebels and militias.

The U.N. deal calls for a presidential council to lead a unified government, but hardliners in both factions reject it and questions remain about how it will be implemented in a country where rival armed brigades hold the key to power.

Chants of “Libya! Libya!” erupted as representatives from both parliaments signed the accord along with local councils and political parties in the Moroccan coastal town of Skhirat.

“The doors remain wide open to those who are not here today,” U.N. envoy Martin Kobler said at the ceremony attended by regional foreign ministers. “The signing of the political agreement is only the first step.”

Under the deal, a nine-member presidential council will form a government with the current, eastern-based House of Representatives as the main legislative and a State Council as a second consultative chamber. The presidential council will name a new government in a month and a U.N. Security Council resolution will endorse it.

Western officials said the priority after making the political agreement work will be securing Tripoli for the new administration and then rebuilding a national army with training and equipment. It may also include foreign advisers.

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