Skip to main content

'Breakthrough' seen in talks by Libya rival parliaments

UN envoy says talks have made progress both in terms of the formation of a proposed unity government and security issues
UN special envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon (L) chairs talks between Libya's two rival parliaments in Skhirate, 30 km south of Rabat, Morocco on 5 March 2015 (AFP)

UN-sponsored talks between Libya's warring camps have seen a "breakthrough", UN Special Representative Bernardino Leon said on Friday.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, Leon said the Morocco-hosted talks had made progress both in terms of the formation of a proposed unity government and security issues.

He went on to voice hope that an agreement would be hammered out soon.

Mezouar, for his part, called on Libya's warring camps to resolve their conflict through dialogue.

"We need a stable and unified Libya," he told reporters.

Earlier on Friday, a member of Libya's Tripoli-based parliament told the Anadolu Agency that agreement had been reached between Libyan factions on the criteria for selecting a prime minister.

However, the indirect nature of the discussions has been criticised by the deputy speaker of the GNC, who is heading the Tripoli delegation.

"This method is not reliable. We need to unite around the same table to get things done," Salah al-Makhzoum said.

A source close to the negotiations said they were due to continue on Saturday.

UN-sponsored dialogue talks kicked off in Morocco on Thursday with the aim of resolving the conflict in crisis-hit Libya.

The north African country has remained in a state of turmoil since a bloody uprising ended the decades-long rule of strongman Muammar Gaddafi in late 2011.

Since then, the country's stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of government, each with its own institutions and military capacities.

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 capital Tripoli.

The two assemblies support two rival governments respectively headquartered in the two cities.

Representatives of both parliaments had already held indirect talks on 11 February at Ghadames in southern Libya, under UN auspices, the first of their kind since a national dialogue was launched at the end of September 2014.

Eight guards killed in attack on oilfield

Meanwhile, eight security guards were killed on Friday when unidentified gunmen attacked an oilfield in southern Libya, the country's national oil company has said.

The attack caused massive damage to the al-Ghani oilfield, Libya's National Oil Corporation said in a statement.

However, no casualties were reported among oil workers.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.

In the same part of southern Libya, eight militants were killed and six others injured in Friday clashes between forces loyal to Libya's GNC and arms smugglers.

In early February, the Islamic State militant group drew attention to its presence in Libya when it posted a video purportedly showing the execution of 21 Egyptian nationals.