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UN unveils proposals to end Libya crisis

AFP , Tuesday 24 Mar 2015
Libya
U.N. Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Bernardino Leon holds a news conference on Libya's reconciliation process at the es-Sahirat region of Rabat, March 20, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)
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The United Nations unveiled Tuesday a six-point proposal aimed at ending the violence plaguing Libya by establishing a transitional government to rule until a new constitution is adopted and elections held.

Envoy Bernardino Leon, who has been shepherding peace talks between Libya's rival parliaments, presented what the UN mission (UNSMIL) described as the "basis from which the parties can work" towards a solution.

The proposal was delivered at meetings in Tripoli and Tobruk, where the rival parliaments are based.

In the latest violence, a suicide car bombing in the country's second city Benghazi killed seven soldiers Tuesday, military sources said.

UNSMIL said Libya risks "widespread confrontation and deeper division in which terrorism and its expansion will become a serious threat to the country and the region".

It "cannot afford to wait any longer before there is a settlement that could restore security and stability and end the suffering of the people".

Samir Ghattas, a spokesman for UNSMIL, told AFP by email: "The visit to Tobruk was good. The objective was to pass on the message to the speaker and that was fulfilled.

"There was a long conversation with the foreign minister, (Mohamed) al-Dayri, at the airport who has been in contact with the House of Representatives, and they sent a positive message."

The proposals speak of a unity government headed by a president and a presidential council of independent figures, along with a parliament representative of all Libyans and a high state council.

A national security council and a municipalities' council would also be created. An existing constitutional drafting committee will also be part of the transitional period.

All will operate for a "transitional period whose duration will be agreed on by the parties and will end with new elections that will come after the approval of the constitution and referendum," UNSMIL said.

The mission noted that the proposals are "first and foremost Libyan and formulated after wide discussions" that address the concerns of all sides and call on the sides to "make concessions".

Libya has been in turmoil since the 2011 overthrow of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising.

It has had two parliaments and governments since Tripoli was seized in August 2014 by the Fajr Libya militia coalition and the internationally recognised government fled to the country's far east.

Leon has been working with representatives of the rival parliaments to try to reach a deal in talks this month in Skhirat, Morocco.

"There is a chance that we can make progress and have the first names for a unity government this week," Leon said Monday in Brussels.

"It is going to be a difficult discussion and I wouldn't like expectations to be too high, bearing in mind how difficult the situation is on the ground. But there is a possibility and we will do our best to reach there by the end of this week."

UNSMIL said Leon would return to Skhirat on Tuesday, "hopeful that the parties are ready to expedite the talks".

On Friday the internationally recognised cabinet said its forces had launched an offensive to "liberate" the capital, prompting a threat from the Tripoli parliament to walk out of the talks.

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