UN: Libya talks holding together despite fighting outbreak

AP News
Posted: Mar 22, 2015 2:26 PM

SKHIRAT, Morocco (AP) — Despite fierce fighting by rival militias around Libya's capital of Tripoli, peace talks between the factions haven't fallen apart and there could be an agreement on a unity government in a day or two, the U.N. envoy to Libya said Sunday.

Weeks of talks in the Moroccan resort town of Skhirat nearly fell apart over the weekend after forces allied to the internationally-recognized parliament in Tobruk attacked the capital, nearly causing negotiations to end Libya's chaos to fall apart.

"For the moment, no one is leaving. We have had a difficult moment, I'm sure you are aware," U.N. envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon said. "After these attacks there was a possibility either to cancel the dialogue or to lose some of the delegations, which would have had a similar impact."

The delegation from Tripoli will be consulting with its home government on how to move forward and then the proposals to pull militias out of population centers and form a unity government would hopefully be agreed on Monday or Tuesday, Leon said.

Leon said the international community was seeking to expedite talks amid the rise of Islamic State extremists in the war-torn country where central authority has largely broken down.

The spokesman for the Libyan forces linked to the Tobruk government said Saturday its army was trying to rid Tripoli of militias, despite the fact that its representatives were holding talks in Morocco with these same groups.

Leon admitted that there were factions on both sides that were pushing for a military solution to the conflict but insisted most were committed to dialogue.

"(The talks are) intended to isolate a minority of them who are against the dialogue, who are against the political solution and bring together a majority of both camps to work against those spoilers," he said.

If the parties can agree on the formation of a unity government, the next step will be choosing who will sit on the new government.