Libyan PM hopes for agreement with rivals on Thursday

Reuters , Wednesday 1 Jul 2015

The internationally recognised prime minister of Libya said he hoped to reach a power-sharing peace agreement on Thursday with his rivals during U.N.-backed talks that seek to end a conflict that threatens to break up the country.

Libya has two governments and parliaments, with the recognised government operating out of the country's east since an armed alliance known as Libya Dawn took over the capital Tripoli, in the west, and declared its own government last year.

Abdullah al-Thinni, who leads the government based in the eastern city of Tobruk, flew to Malta on Wednesday for talks with the Maltese prime minister, Joseph Muscat. He said he was hopeful an agreement would be reached.

"It goes without saying that there will be a lot of discussions tomorrow and there are people in favour and against. We aspire to realise this agreement," Thinni said.

Libya has been sliding deeper into chaos, worrying Western powers who fear it will become a failed state just over the Mediterranean from mainland Europe.

Militants allied to Islamic State have also gained ground in the chaos four years after from the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

The latest round of talks has been under way in the Moroccan coastal town of Skhirat since Friday.

Nearly three weeks after the U.N. special envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, handed them a final draft of the deal, the negotiating teams have been trying to hammer out amendments while fighters on the ground battle for a military victory.

Leon said earlier in the week they would try to "initialise the agreement" on Thursday, after both sides had held consultations.

There was no immediate comment from the Tripoli side, but the rivals sat the same table for the first time on Sunday, raising hopes a deal could be finalised after both sides agreed in principle to the draft, with several caveats.

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

Thinni said that once a unity government was set up, it would continue to fight against Islamic State.

"Any sane government would fight terror, and we have been fighting this for some time. This is a paramount importance for the safety and stability of Libya and the rest of the world. This is a fight we all must fight together," he said. 

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