Libya's Tripoli group delays joining peace talks after official quits

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 27, 2015 10:09 AM

SKHIRAT, Morocco (Reuters) - Delegates for Libya's rival government in Tripoli will hold off joining peace talks that were due to start on Thursday until they manage to form a new team following the resignation of a senior negotiator, a representative said.

The group did not say how long it might be until they could take part in the U.N.-backed negotiations in Morocco set up to try and end months of conflict with a separate internationally recognized government.

The announcement was the latest in a series of hold-ups over the talks, which Western officials say are the only hope of halting the fighting that has brought Libya to its knees in the four years since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

Islamist militants, including Islamic State, have also take advantage of the chaos to gain ground in the north African oil producer.

A senior member of the Tripoli delegation quit on Wednesday following what his group described as differences with the head of the Tripoli parliament over the talks.

Both sides face divisions and pressure from hardliners.

Mowafaq Hawas, a representative of that parliament, said they would now have to form a new negotiating team.

"This is not because we want to leave the U.N. dialogue," he told Reuters.

Libya's internationally recognized government and elected parliament have operated out of the east since an armed alliance known as Libya Dawn took over the capital Tripoli and set up its own self-declared government last year.

Delegates for the recognized government last month agreed to a preliminary deal, but the Tripoli delegation has so far refused to sign.

They have been discussing a U.N. proposal that calls for a one-year government of national accord in which a council of ministers headed by a prime minister and two deputies would have executive authority.

(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Andrew Heavens)