The two speakers of Libya’s two competing parliaments said on Tuesday that a planned “unity” agreement between members the nation’s two main conflicting sides was premature and should be postponed.
Head of Tobruk Parliament Agila Salah said the UN-backed agreement, which is due to be signed in Morocco Thursday, does not have the backing of all members of the Tobruk parliament nor of the opposing Tripoli parliament in the west of Libya.
He called on the UN envoy overseeing the process to postpone the deal, saying that the Tobruk parliament has not authorised anybody to sign the agreement.
Saleh made his comments in Malta, where he was holding talks with Nouri Abu Sahmeen, the speaker of the opposing Tripoli-based parliament. The two lawmakers met each other for the first time on Tuesday, hoping to move toward a lasting agreement that will end years of conflict and division since the 2011 uprising that removed Muammar Gaddafi from power.
However, other actors are forging ahead with a separate UN-backed process that involves several lawmakers signing a “national unity government” deal on Thursday, despite opposition from the parliamentary leaders and many others. The deal was originally due to be signed on Wednesday but has been put back to Thursday.
The agreement includes the formation of a national unity government at the start of a proposed two-year transition period.
However, Saleh said that it was unwise to rush into signing a deal without the full support of the majority of both parliaments. He said that “acting hastily would lead to more problems in the future”, according to the Times of Malta.
Abu Sahmeen echoed his counterpart’s sentiments: “We will not accept foreign intervention against the will of the Libya people.”
He said that he and Saleh were discussing various elements of the UN-backed agreement with a view to hammering out a consensus solution. He urged the international community to consider the meeting in Malta as a way to reach Libyan unity.
Abu Bakr Ba’aeera, a member of the Tobruk parliament, told the Daily news Egypt both the eastern and western parts of the nation are divided on the pending deal.
“There is a divide inside both the Tobruk and Tripoli parliaments and those going to Morocco do not officially represent their parliament; they went as individuals,” Ba’aeera said.
Regarding the meeting in Malta, Ba’aeera said that the purpose was to agree on talks between the various Libyan parties, independent of UN involvement.
“The two sides agreed to form a committee to discuss the areas of disagreement,” he said.
Any agreement that is forced on the Libyan people or parliaments would not work nor would any national unity government be able to operate under such conditions, he added.
Libya has witnessed chaos since the 2011 overthrow of Gaddafi, with various tribal and religious groups staking claims to certain territories. Two major areas of the nation – in the east and west – have emerged as the key players but other areas are dominated by militias and jihadists, including fighters affiliated to “Islamic State”.
The war-torn country has also become a major departure point for thousands of migrants travelling to Europe.