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U.N. fails to bridge differences in month-long Libya talks in Tunisia
October 21, 2017 / 4:00 PM / 2 months ago

U.N. fails to bridge differences in month-long Libya talks in Tunisia

TUNIS, Oct 21 (Reuters) - The United Nations has failed to bridge differences between rival Libyan factions at month-long talks in Tunisia aimed at stabilising the oil producing nation and paving the way for elections.

The North African country has been gripped by turmoil since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising ended Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule, giving space to Islamist militants and smuggling networks that have sent hundreds of thousands of migrants to Europe.

Political and military fractures have left the country mired in conflict and the OPEC member’s economy in freefall. Rival parliaments and governments have vied for power.

A month ago U.N. envoy Ghassan Salame, the latest in a series of Libya envoys since 2011, announced a one-year “action plan” for a transition toward presidential and parliamentary elections.

Since then the U.N. has hosted in Tunis delegations from rival parliaments from eastern Libya and Tripoli, which are meant to draw up amendments to a previous U.N.-mediated plan signed in December 2015.

But at the end of a second round of talks Salame only said discussions would continue without giving a new date.

“There are some area of consensus... but there are parts which need discussions with the political leaderships inside Libya,” Salame told reporters without giving details.

The U.N. had tried a similar approach in 2015 of hosting Libyans in luxury hotels abroad but the deal never won support from the power-brokers and factions aligned with military commander Khalifa Haftar that control eastern Libya.

Haftar is just one of many players in Libya controlled by armed groups divided among political, religion, regional and business lines.

Western states have tried to work with the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, but it has been hamstrung by internal splits and has been unable to halt a slide in living standards or tame the power of armed groups.

Under the new U.N. plan, once amendments have been agreed a national conference drawing on a much larger number of representatives from across Libya is meant to approve the members of a transitional government that would run the country until elections. (Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Ros Russell)

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