Rival Libyan govt included in U.N. peace talks

A Libyan military personnel mans a checkpoint in the city center in Benghazi December 4, 2014, where clashes between pro and anti-government forces have taken place.

A Libyan military personnel mans a checkpoint in the city center in Benghazi December 4, 2014, where clashes between pro and anti-government forces have taken place.

The United Nations will widen a new round of talks aimed at ending Libya’s escalating political crisis by including a rival assembly challenging the recognized government, its special envoy said on Monday.

Libya has had two governments and parliaments competing for legitimacy since a group called Libya Dawn seized Tripoli in August, installing its cabinet and forcing the recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni to the east.

World powers fear the conflict will lead to civil war as former rebel groups that helped oust Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 now fight for power and a share of the vast oil reserves.

The United Nations had launched a first round of talks in September bringing together the elected House of Representatives and members from the city of Misrata linked to Libya Dawn who had boycotted the assembly.

A second round of talks was meant to start on Tuesday after the first produced no progress. U.N. Special Envoy Bernadino Leon said during a visit to Tripoli that they would be postponed until the beginning of next week to give more time to work out details.

Leon said the dialogue would include members of a rival assembly in Tripoli, the General National Congress (GNC), the country’s previous assembly reinstated by the new rulers in the capital.

“So this dialogue should be based on respect. And we have agreed tonight that this respect will mean that the representatives from this house will be attending the dialogue considering themselves representatives of the GNC,” Leon said after meeting GNC President Nouri Abu Sahmain.

“But they will accept that these talks will have different views,” he said, standing in a GNC building behind a banner saying “State of Libya. Presidency of the General National Congress.”

Leon might find it hard to sell the inclusion of the GNC to the House or Representatives when he visits its members based in the remote eastern city of Tobruk on Tuesday.

He dodged a question whether his plans means the U.N. drops its position that the house is the sole legitimate assembly, a view shared so far also by global powers.

He only said a recent Supreme Court ruling invalidating the House of Representatives had changed the situation though some critics say the judges were hardly free since they are based in Tripoli.

“We all agreed that the ruling of the court implied changes in the country,” he said. “What is important is to have a dialogue where each one has its view and they accept the views of the others,” he said.

He said talks were focusing on forming eventually a national unity government but reaching smaller steps such as local ceasefire were key to start a broader dialogue.

 
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