Tobruk parliament extends mandate as Libya peace talks resume

Tobruk parliament extends mandate as Libya peace talks resume
3 min read
06 October, 2015
Libya's Tobruk-based parliament made the move in advance of the resumption of UN-brokered peace talks, as a precaution against their possible failure
Bernardino said he expected a deal to be reached by 20 October [Getty]

Libya's rival factions have resumed UN-brokered peace talks in Morocco as the country's Tobruk-based parliament extended its mandate as a precaution against the failure of the talks.

The UN has been piling pressure on Libyan factions aligned with each of the country's two rival parliaments to take the final step after months of difficult negotiations and missed deadlines.

"The envoy of the UN Mission for Libya is meeting a number of negotiators on Monday," said UNSMIL spokesman Samir Ghattas.

Meanwhile, Libya's internationally recognized parliament in Tobruk, the House of Representatives, voted to extend its own mandate past its 20 October expiry, said two members of the body and its media spokesman.

Abuhashim said the extension was 'a precautionary measure in case the political talks fail, to avoid leaving a political vacuum'

The move could signal the Tobruk-based body's lack of confidence in the ongoing UN efforts to strike a deal between the country's two rival governments to form a national unity government.

The mandate was set to expire on 20 October under a political roadmap sketched out after the 2011 overthrow of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Essa al-Areibi, Ali Takbali and spokesman Faraj Abuhashim said 129 members of the 131 present voted to extend the parliament's mandate until power were transferred to another elected body.

Abuhashim said the extension was "a precautionary measure in case the political talks fail, to avoid leaving a political vacuum".

Abuhashim told reporters the parliament still supported the UN-backed peace process and its delegates were meeting with UN envoy Bernardino Leon in the Moroccan city of Skhirat on Monday, Reuters reported.

He added the vote reached quorum after parliamentary members arrived from Egypt.

The rival Tripoli-based parliament, known as the GNC, made no official response to the extension, Reuters said.

Progress toward a deal

UN envoy Leon said a deal should be reached before 20 October, when the mandate of the Tobruk parliament expired.

Nearly four years after the fall and death of its former dictator, Libya remains in chaos with two rival governments and parliaments.

Tripoli is the seat of the General National Congress, controlled by the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) coalition of militias.

The city of Tobruk in the country's east, near the Egypt border, hosts the internationally recognised parliament.

The seaside resort of Skhirat near the Moroccan capital Rabat is again hosting negotiations, two weeks after the previous round of talks adjourned for the Islamic feast of Eid al-Adha.

The UN mission on 22 September gave delegates to the talks a copy of the final text of the political agreement, saying it was the only option for Libyans if they did not want to lead their country into a political vacuum and uncertain future.

"Armed conflict and political instability has impacted over three million people across Libya," the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report published on Thursday.

In a country of 6.3 million, "2.44 million people are in need of protection and some form of humanitarian assistance".