Libya rivals reach \'consensus\' on main elements of agreement

Friday 11/09/2015
Leon sees ‘moment of truth’ in peace talks

SKHIRAT (Morocco) - Libya's rival governments have reached a "consensus" on the main elements of a political agreement, a UN special envoy told reporters early Sunday.

Bernardino Leon said in Skhirat, Morocco that the two sides were able to "overcome their differences" on major outstanding issues, increasing the likelihood of signing a long-awaited agreement to form a unity government this month.

He called it the first time "that we have the possibility to make it and to have this agreement with the all the parties, all the key parties in Libya onboard," adding that both sides have made compromises.

"We know that it is going to require a lot of work, but we believe that it will be possible to reach this deadline of the 20th of September with an agreement that will be signed," said Leon.

The most recent text of the draft agreement was not immediately available.

On Saturday, a participant said Libyan peace talks have made progress since resuming in Morocco.

"We have reached agreement on seven of the nine points in the political accord," said Ashraf al-Shehh, political adviser to the General National Congress in Tripoli.

Shehh said the two outstanding issues relate to military and state appointments during an interim period and how to appoint members of the High Council of State.

He reported intense consultations to complete the negotiations before September 20.

When the talks resumed on Thursday, UN peace envoy Bernardino Leon was upbeat.

"We are starting a new round of talks in the Libya process, which we hope will be the final round, the moment of truth for the parties," he said in Skhirat near the Moroccan capital.

"We are very hopeful that they will understand that this deadline of 20th of September must be the last one, must be the one that will allow Libya to get out of this crisis."

Leon's peace plan calls for a unity government deal by September 20, ahead of the UN General Assembly, with the government coming into force a month later.

A two-year transitional government would then work towards organising parliamentary elections.

Leon said Thursday a deal on creating a unity government could be reached "in the coming days", but that difficult work remained before a final accord.

Since the 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi, Libya has slid into chaos. The country is divided between an Islamist-backed government in Tripoli and the internationally recognised government in Tobruk.

Leon has been trying to get the parties to present candidates for prime minister and two deputies to lead a national unity government to bring the war-torn country out of its crisis.

He said the Tripoli government has been given 48 hours to submit names for leadership positions in a unity government, adding that the Tobruk-based government has already provided names.

The rising influence of the Islamic State jihadist group and Libya's emergence as a smuggling hub for migrants risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean have added urgency to the long-running and often derailed UN talks.