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Rival Libyan parliament chiefs meet

By on December 16, 2015

The leaders of Libya’s rival parliaments rejected a U.N. peace deal a day before moderates from both sides were due to sign it, highlighting the deep splits challenging international efforts to end the fighting.

Agila Salah, from the internationally recognised congress in the eastern city of Tobruk, and Nouri Abusahmen, from the Tripoli-based General National Congress, held talks in Malta.

The two met on Tuesday for the first time since latest fighting broke out more than a year ago, a development they said showed progress. But they both said the pact had been imposed by world powers and asked for more time to work out a Libyan initiative.

The meeting in Malta between the two men follows weekend talks in Rome in which world powers urged Libya’s warring factions to stop fighting and back a unity government.

Moderates from the rival parliaments and independents were scheduled to sign the agreement on Wednesday, a deal that calls for a unity government and a ceasefire.

Whether they will sign is far from certain. Mr Salah pleaded for more time, warning that “acting hastily would lead to more problems in the future”, the Times of Malta reported.

For his part Mr Abusahmen said “we will not accept foreign intervention against the will of the Libyan people” referring to the UN-backed deal.

Some Western diplomats said the two parliament leaders are the main block to getting support and a vote on a U.N. deal and they could be the target of sanctions if an agreement is signed without them.

Islamic State militants have gained a foothold inside Libya in the security chaos, controlling Sirte city, drawing more foreign fighters away from the group’s main Middle East stronghold in Iraq and Syria.

The signing is scheduled for late morning local time on Thursday in Morocco.

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