Libya parliament extends deadline for new unity government

AFP , Wednesday 10 Feb 2016

Libya's internationally recognised parliament has extended to Sunday a deadline for the formation of a new national unity government aimed at ending years of chaos in the North African country.

Lawmakers from the parliament, currently exiled in eastern Libya, on Tuesday voted to give a UN-backed Presidential Council "until Sunday to form a national unity government", it said on its website.

The council -- made up of nine members from Libya's rival factions and headed by businessman Fayez al-Sarraj -- was supposed to present a new lineup for the power-sharing authority on Wednesday.

Sarraj, who is to become prime minister under a UN-brokered deal signed by a minority of lawmakers from the country's two rival parliaments in December, asked for a deadline extension on Monday.

UN envoy to Libya Martin Kobler on Wednesday tweeted that presidential council members gathered in the Moroccan resort of Skhirat were meeting day and night to work on a new cabinet lineup.

"Never seen the presidential council so committed in day/night (meetings) to present a good list of the new unity (government)," he wrote.

Last month the recognised parliament, which needs to approve any unity government before it begins work, rejected an initial lineup of 32 ministers and asked for it to be trimmed.

Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 ouster of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with two rival administrations and armed groups fighting for control of the oil-rich country.

A militia alliance including Islamists overran Tripoli in August 2014, establishing its own government and parliament and causing the recognised administration to flee to the country's remote east.

The Islamic State militants group (ISIS) has taken advantage of the turmoil to establish a stronghold in the coastal city of Sirte.

During a visit to Shahat in east Libya on Friday, Kobler met with parliament speaker Aguila Saleh and urged lawmakers to back a new proposal for a unity government.

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