Libyan factions agreed to continue United Nations-backed negotiations in Geneva next week over ending the country’s political crisis, the U.N. said, though key representatives from Tripoli’s self-declared government have stayed away.
Nearly four years after a NATO-backed revolt ousted Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is in turmoil with two rival governments and two parliaments backed by allied armed factions who Western governments fear may drag the country into civil war.
The internationally recognised government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni and the elected House of Representatives have operated out of the east after a faction, Libya Dawn, took over Tripoli in the summer, set up its own government and reinstated the old parliament known as the GNC.
A delegation from the House of Representatives and parties allied to Tripoli attended this week’s talks in Geneva, but major representatives from Libya Dawn and the GNC parliament refused to join, casting doubt over efforts to form a unity administration.
“Participants agreed to return to Geneva next week for a new round of dialogue after holding the necessary consultations,” the U.N. said in a statement late on Thursday. “The mission and the participants expressed their hope that all the invited representatives, including those who did not attend this round, would take part in the talks next week.”
GNC head, Nouri Abusahmain, a key figure in the Tripoli faction, was to visit Turkey on Friday for talks with President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, according to the Turkish government.
Thinni’s government is recognized by the United Nations and Western powers. The Tripoli administration is not, but still controls ministries, airports and same oil facilities.
Most diplomats pulled out of the capital when Libya Dawn took over Tripoli after months of fighting with rival armed groups. But in October the Tripoli government’s premier Omar al-Hasi met Turkey’s envoy, the first such public meeting.
The European Union has called the Geneva talks the “last chance” to resolve Libya’s crisis. Rival brigades of former rebels and their political allies who once fought together against Gaddafi have since turned against each other in a scramble for control.
The U.N. talks are aimed at forming a unity government, ceasing hostilities and putting a transition to democracy on track. But the Tripoli-based forces complained this week that the process had been rushed, and said they would vote on Sunday whether to go to Geneva or not.
Fighting over the country’s oil infrastructure has closed two major oil ports in the east and slashed Libya’s oil output to around 300,000 barrels per day from the 1.6 million bpd produced before the civil war toppled Gaddafi in 2011.