Africa

Libya crisis: UN presents 'unity' plan to factions

UN special envoy Bernardino Leon at talks in Skhirat, Morocco. File photo Image copyright AP
Image caption Bernardino Leon said the proposal represented "a fair and reasonable way forward"

The UN has presented a draft proposal for a Libyan unity government to warring factions in an attempt to stabilise the conflict-torn country.

The plan unveiled at talks in Morocco addresses terms of a truce and disarmament of armed groups.

UN special envoy Bernardino Leon urged the Libyans to back the proposal.

Since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has descended into chaos and seen jihadist groups fighting for control of the oil-rich nation.

Islamic State (IS) militants have recently managed to gain a foothold in Libya's cities of Derna and Sirte.

On Tuesday, the militants said they had seized a power plant near Sirte, which a military source confirmed, Reuters news agency reports.

According to the privately owned Libyan al-Wasat newspaper, the insurgents took the facility after a militia linked to the authorities in Tripoli withdrew.

The BBC's North Africa correspondent Rana Jawad says with the gradual spread of IS, most of Libya's warring militias are now facing a common threat that did not exist when they declared war on each other.

This may prove to be the one element that forces them to work together, she adds.

Analysis: BBC North Africa correspondent Rana Jawad, Tunis

This latest draft will be attractive to Libya's political rivals, but is unlikely to please the country's warlords. The threat of targeted UN sanctions on individuals may help to get agreement.

Key to implementing large parts of the agreement appears to be the creation of a legitimate armed force, which will be a long and difficult process.

The delegates taking part in the current dialogue will oversee the deal's implementation and have some short-term decision-making powers.

If adopted, it could put Libya back on track if all militias fall into line - or spark a wider conflict if the militias oppose disarmament. And as has happened in recent years, new militia alliances could take shape.

"Today, the people of Libya have their eyes on this gathering, on you, in the hope that you'll save your country and your people from protracted conflict," Mr Leon told Libya's two rival governments at the talks in Skhirat.

"I am full of hope that this draft represents a fair and reasonable way forward."

The UN plan calls for a one-year-long national unity government and says that the parliament elected in 2014 is the only legislative body.

However, it says a High Council of State should be formed with 120 members - many of them from the rival parliament - to be Libya's "highest consultative body" with "binding opinions".

A council, made up of the prime minister and four other politicians, has also been proposed to be in control the armed forces.

Libya's rival power bases

Why is Libya so lawless?

Islamic State gains Libya foothold

Currently, Libya's internationally recognised parliament is based in the eastern port of Tobruk.

Its rival, the Islamist-dominated General National Congress, is nearly 1,000km (620 miles) to the west in the capital, Tripoli.

Representatives of both groups - who have made no public comments on the UN proposal - are expected to reconvene for talks later this week.

"What I can say is at the end of this week, we will have a very clear idea on who is for peace who is not, and that will help us to focus our efforts in the future," the US ambassador to Libya, Deborah Jones, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

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