Libyan parliament rivals hold first UN-backed talks

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Spanish UN envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon addresses a news conference in the Libyan capital Tripoli on September 11, 2014.Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The talks were brokered by the UN's special envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon

Representatives from rival factions in Libya's new parliament have held UN-brokered talks for the first time in the western oasis town of Ghadames.

Sitting members of the House of Representatives met fellow MPs who have so far boycotted sessions.

The parliament was elected in July but has been hampered by an upsurge in political violence across the country.

Oil-rich Libya has been plagued by instability since the overthrow of Col Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Militia groups, some of them remnants of forces which helped oust Gaddafi, have been fighting for power among themselves.

Recent fighting has forced the internationally-recognised new parliament to convene in the small city of Tobruk near the Egyptian border, with different militia groups controlling most of the country.

Political process

The talks were brokered by the recently-appointed UN special envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, who described the talks as "very constructive and very positive".

He said they had "agreed to start a political process and to address all issues in a peaceful way with a very strong call for a complete ceasefire".

The talks involved about a dozen sitting members of the House of Representatives and a dozen elected members who had chosen not to travel in Tobruk because of political disagreements.

Representatives from the UK and Malta also attended the talks.

Members of the militias who control Tripoli and other major cities were not believed to be present.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Fighting between rival groups in Libya this year has left hundreds dead

Hundreds of people are believed to have been killed since widespread fighting broke out between rival forces in Benghazi in May.

The fighting later spread to other parts of the country, and has left most of the country outside the control of the elected government.

Since Islamist-leaning armed groups took control of Tripoli in August, they have attempted to reinstate Libya's previous parliament and appoint a parallel government, but this has not been recognised internationally.

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