RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Delegates from rival Libyan factions proposed a new unity government Sunday for the chaotic country, after months of U.N. mediation and the rejection of a previous Cabinet proposal.
If approved by Libya's internationally recognized parliament, a new unity government could eventually seek international military intervention against Islamic State extremists who have taken advantage of the country's political vacuum since 2014. However, it's unclear whether the new proposal will have greater chances at success than previous efforts.
The Unity Presidential Council announced the 18-member government late Sunday in the Moroccan city of Skhirat. The council was formed after negotiations in Morocco last year, with the aim of forming a unity government.
The proposal needs approval from the internationally recognized parliament based in eastern Libya, which rejected an earlier proposed unity government last month. Sunday's announcement did not mention needing approval from the rival Islamist-dominated parliament based in Tripoli in the west. The rival factions are each backed by different militias and tribes.
The Unity Presidential Council, headed by Fayez Sarraj, includes representatives from the rival parliaments and governments, as well as delegates from other factions. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke with Sarraj last week, urging him to submit a new list soon.
U.N. Libya envoy Martin Kobler tweeted his congratulations, calling Sunday's announcement "a unique peace opportunity that must not be missed."
Ibrahim O. Dabbashi, Libya's permanent envoy to the United Nations, tweeted that the proposed Cabinet includes people close to the Gadhafi regime, and that "will only give parliament a reason to reject it."
NATO carried out airstrikes in 2011 against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's military after a crackdown on Arab Spring opposition protests. But after Gadhafi was killed, swaths of the country sank into lawlessness, human trafficking and Islamic extremism.
Small teams of U.S. military members have gone in and out of Libya in recent months as part of an effort to establish ties with local groups and leaders. Italy, France and Britain are also keeping a close eye on Libya's unrest. Islamic State extremists in Libya have claimed responsibility for deadly attacks and are trying to take control of Libya's oil network.
There are concerns that continued chaos and violence could lead to a greater influx of refugees to an already overburdened Europe given Libya's close proximity to Italian islands.