Libya warring factions meet face to face for first time
Libya’s warring factions have held their first face-to-face meeting in the latest round of UN-brokered peace talks in Morocco in a bid to reach a deal on a unity government.
“Libyan dialogue participants hold first joint working meeting in Skhirat, Morocco on Sunday,” said a tweet on the official website of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
Members of Libya’s internationally-recognized legislature, based in the northeastern city of Tobruk, and opponents from another parliament based in the capital, Tripoli, sat at the same negotiating table for the first time since the beginning of the talks in January.
Representatives from both sides described the meeting as positive, saying that they have overcome many differences over a draft agreement on the formation of a unity government proposed by UN special envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon during talks in Morocco earlier this month.
“Today’s meeting was positive. There are many common points of view” regarding the draft deal, said Saleh al-Makhzoum, a delegate of the Tripoli-based parliament.
Abu Bakr Baira, a deputy from the Tobruk legislature, told journalists, “There is agreement on most of the issues.”
Earlier reports cited Baira as saying that the two sides were expected “to initial a written document that narrows down diverging views” later on Sunday.
“After the document is initialed, everyone will return to their bases in order to obtain final approval” for the draft agreement, Tawfik Chahibi of the Tripoli parliament said.
Chahibi said that the representatives would need “two to three weeks” to review everything before inking a final agreement.
The draft under discussion is the fourth such text put forward by Leon to the Libyan sides meeting in the resort town of Skhirat.
Following an uprising that led to the ouster and subsequent death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has seen persistent fighting and chaos. Warring sides are now in talks to end months of fighting in the North African country.
Several rounds of UN-mediated talks in recent months have, however, failed to deliver any practical results that could lead to the formation of a unity government.
Following years of internal fighting, the capital is under the control of the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) militia, while Tobruk is home to the internationally recognized government.