Libyan rivals urged to agree quick power-sharing deal

AP News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2015 12:23 PM
Libyan rivals urged to agree quick power-sharing deal

BERLIN (AP) — Libya's rival factions faced strong pressure to agree quickly to a power-sharing deal for the fractured North African country as they met Wednesday in Berlin with officials from world powers.

The Berlin meeting brought together nearly two dozen Libyan participants in ongoing U.N.-brokered talks with the Libya envoys of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members, Italy, Spain and the European Union.

"The time has come to make an agreement," Bernardino Leon, the U.N. envoy leading talks aimed at stemming Libya's collapse into a failed state, told reporters. "We can continue working for months and for years maybe to reach a perfect agreement, but Libya doesn't have the time."

Libya is split between an Islamist-led government backed by militias that seized the capital of Tripoli last August and its elected parliament, which is forced to convene in the country's far east. The extremist Islamic State has gained a foothold amid the chaos, taking the central city of Sirte.

The Berlin meeting came amid signs of deep division in the elected parliament over the latest, fourth draft of a power-sharing agreement proposed by Leon.

Spokesmen for the parliament and its negotiating team have said they are suspending participation in the U.N. talks, arguing the proposal gives Islamist factions too much of a say. However, negotiators who traveled to Berlin issued a statement saying it has "many positive elements."

Leon said that "the principles of inclusion, balance and consensus are there at every step, (in) every institution."

The general opinion of Libyan representatives was that "this proposal might be acceptable, and this is in both camps," though there are hardliners on both sides, Leon added.

"The challenge is not only that they agree on this draft, but that they agree soon, that they agree if possible before or at the beginning of Ramadan," late next week, he said.

Libya is an increasing worry to European governments because of the gains by IS and the country's role as a staging post for African and other migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

"We said that the time has come when there are no more excuses," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. "There is no more time to wait for a fifth or sixth proposal from Bernardino Leon."

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Maggie Michael in Cairo contributed to this report.