At long last there is a glimmer of hope for the war-torn country of Libya. A number of important members of Libya’s rival parliaments signed a U.N.-sponsored deal to form a unity government on Thursday. Leaders across the globe hailed the agreement, expressing hope it will help bring real peace to the war-ravaged nation.
The goal of the agreement is that rival political factions and militias will come together and agree on a cease-fire so that they can all focus on the Islamic State extremist group, which has already made major gains in the North African country.
The document had numerous signatories, including Emhemed Shoaib, the deputy speaker of the internationally recognized Libyan parliament, who was in Morocco, and Salah al-Makhzoum, the second deputy of the Islamist-backed parliament based in the capital of Tripoli.
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More on Libya unity government deal
The political situation in Libya has steadily eroded since the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The nation has been further torn by a tug of war between the internationally recognized government, located in the east of the country, and the Islamist government in Tripoli.
Analysts point out that the new Libya unity government agreement is opposed by some in both parliaments who seek a separate deal without U.N. involvement.
“We know well that the document of political accord in its current form is not the perfect thing that everyone wants, but at the same time, this political accord is a stage on the path to rescue Libya from collapsing and to ensure its unity,” al-Makhzoum noted.
Shoaib commented the agreement is designed to be able to say “goodbye to weapons” that are everywhere in Libya. The deal also established a nine-member presidential council that will eventually choose the Cabinet.
The speakers of the two Libya parliaments (Tripoli-based Nuri A.M. Abusahmain and Aguila Saleh Issa from the east) did not attend the signing ceremony in Morocco. Both men have a reputation as hard-liners, and they held talks this week in Malta to try and make another deal without any involvement from the U.N.
The two speakers issued a statement saying the parliament representatives who traveled to Morocco were not mandated to represent the parliaments in the negotiations.
Al-Makhzoum and Faraj Abu-Hashem, the spokesman for the eastern parliament, told the AP that 88 lawmakers from the two parliaments had attended the signing.
Of note, the eastern Libya parliament has 156 known members, while the Islamist parliament in Tripoli has 135 members.
Emphasizing the international character of the new Libya unity government deal, the foreign ministers of Turkey, Italy, Spain, Qatar, Tunisia, and Morocco were all present at the signing to support of the agreement.
Statement from U.N. envoy Martin Kobler
“This is just the beginning of a long journey for Libya,” commented U.N. envoy Martin Kobler at the ceremony in Morocco.
“Four challenges in particular will immediately test the abilities of the new government,” he continued. “First, to face immediately the dire humanitarian situation in the country. Second, an inclusive national security dialogue. Third, the fight against Daesh (the Islamic State group) and other terrorist groups, and fourth, a particular attention to Benghazi and other areas.”