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Libya's GNC to join UN-backed dialogue

Libya's Tripoli-based General National Congress says it is 'ready to discuss any initiatives aimed at stopping the shedding of Libyan blood'
The president of the General National Congress (GNC), Nuri Abu Sahmein speaks in Tripoli on 30 January, 2014 (AFP)

Libya's Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC) on Sunday officially announced its approval to participate in a UN-sponsored national dialogue.

It said, however, that its participation in the dialogue was conditional on holding it in Libya instead of Geneva.

"The Congress is ready to discuss any initiatives aimed at stopping the shedding of Libyan blood and extending the state's sovereignty to every institution," the GNC said in a statement.

"The dialogue must be based on the principles of the 7 February, 2011 revolution, the constitutional declaration and the Supreme Court's verdict," it added, referring to the declaration that defined Libya's post-revolution transition and the verdict that declared the rival eastern Libya-based House of Representatives (HoR) "unconstitutional."

The assembly suggested southern Libya's Ghat city as a venue for the second round of the UN-backed talks.

Earlier in the day, a member of the GNC said the UN had agreed to hold the second round of national dialogue talks in Libya.

Abdel-Qader Houili told the Anadolu Agency that an agreement in this regard was reached during a meeting in Istanbul between Bernardino Leon, the UN special envoy to Libya, and GNC Speaker Nuri Abu Sahmein.

Libya has remained in a state of turmoil since the fall of the Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Rival militias have frequently clashed in Libya's main cities, including capital Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi.

Political divisions have yielded two rival seats of government in the country, each of which has its own institutions.

The two assemblies (the Tobruk-based HoR and the Tripoli-based GNC) support two different governments as well as two military entities.

While the HoR has the support of many in the Libyan army and troops loyal to former army commander Khalifa Haftar, the GNC is backed by fighters which helped topple Gaddafi in 2011.

Fighters from rival camps announced a ceasefire on Sunday.

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) welcomed the ceasefire as a "significant contribution" to the country's peace process and called on all parties to work with UNSMIL to "ensure compliance" with the truce. 

"UNSMIL urges the parties to ensure that the ceasefire applies to ground, sea and air operations as well as movement of armed personnel and vehicles," it said.

The UN mission said it would coordinate with both sides "regarding tackling any breaches" and that the truce would allow the flow of humanitarian aid to people displaced by fighting.

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