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Libya's GNC suspends taking part in peace talks

Libya's Tripoli-based government will take time to review the latest UN peace plan after growing anger that it does not meet their needs
Libyan protesters set a portrait of UN envoy Bernardino Leon on fire during a demonstration (AFP)

Libya's rival governments will not return to peace talks this week after rebel forces on Wednesday rejected the latest proposal, defying threats UN threats to impose sanctions on anyone who stands in the way of a deal.

The General National Congress (GNC) parliament in Tripoli, which was seized by rebel forces last year, said it would consult for a week on the new draft, ruling out returning to the talks due to begin in Morocco on Thursday.

"The amendments introduced in the latest text submitted by the UN did not include (our own) proposals," it said in a statement released late on Wednesday.

Libya Dawn, the coalition of militias that controls the capital, also rejected the latest peace plan as "treason, because it sanctions the creation of a fascist dictatorship under the auspices of the UN".

The GNC is reported to be unhappy with the latest draft UN agreement, which sets out a reduced role for a 120-member State Council, according to local daily Libya Herald. The council would form part of a new unity government and 90 of its members would be drawn from the Tripoli-based GNC.

In the latest UN Security Council draft the council would not have a legislative role in a unity government and would instead simply give opinion on laws passed by the House of Representatives.

Dozens of people protested against the new draft in front of the GNC's headquarters in Tripoli on Wednesday, burning pictures of the UN envoy leading the peace talks Bernardino Leon, according to an AFP journalist on the scene.

Libya's leadership is split between Libya Dawn forces, who seized the capital last year, and the government elected in June 2014, that was forced to flee to Tobruk in the northeast of the country.

The factions are facing international pressure to form a national unity government and end years of chaos in the war-torn country, which has become a hotbed of militant groups. 


UN sanctions

The UN Security Council on Wednesday warned that "there can be no military solution to the crisis in Libya" and urged all sides to "sign the proposal presented by the UN support mission in Libya in the coming days".

A national unity government "is in the interests of the Libyan people and their future, in order to end Libya's political, security and institutional crises and to confront the rising threat of terrorism," it added.

The 15-member council said it was "prepared to sanction those who threaten Libya's peace, stability and security or that undermine the successful completion of its political transition".

In Tobruk, the seat of Libya's House of Representatives government, lawmaker Osama Mohamed Faraj al-Chaaf, said parliament was ready "in principle to endorse" the text, according to a news agency close to the authorities.

A previous bid by Britain, France, Spain and the United States to step up pressure on the sides with sanctions was blocked by Russia and China.

The United Nations has been brokering talks between Libya's various groups with a view to establishing a unity government.

Libyan factions agreed during Geneva talks in January to set up a national unity government to restore stability that has been shattered since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi.