Libya's rival parliament reach tentative agreement

Awad Mohammed Abdul-Sadiq (L), first deputy head of the Tripoli-based General National Congress and Ibrahim Fethi Amish from Libya's internationally recognised House of Representatives exchange signed documents aimed at ending the deadlock in Libya. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Representatives have shaken hands but the deal needs to be approved by the rival assemblies

Libya's two rival parliaments have reached an initial agreement aimed at resolving the political crisis that has plagued the country for years.

The deal, agreed at talks in Tunis, is intended to lead to a single government and elections within two years.

It needs to be endorsed by both the internationally recognised parliament in eastern Libya and the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC).

The agreement is separate from UN efforts at mediation in Libya.

In October, the UN submitted its own blueprint for a deal leading to a unified government, but neither side has endorsed it.

The UN is due to host peace talks between the two factions next week in Rome.

Libya has been unstable since long-serving strongman Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in October 2011, with militias ruling various parts of the country.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Libya has been plagued by instability since Col Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011

"This is a historic moment the Libyans were waiting for," Awad Mohammed Abdul-Sadiq, the first deputy head of the GNC, said after the deal was signed on Sunday.

"If this solution receives real Libyan support - from the people and institutions - we will surely arrive in no more than two weeks or a month to a solution to solve the political crisis," he told reporters.

Under the "declaration of principles" agreed in Tunis, the two sides would set up a committee to nominate a prime minister pending elections, while another panel would review the constitution.

The GNC is supported by a loose alliance of armed groups, including Islamists, that seized the capital in August 2014.

This forced the existing, internationally recognised government to flee to the eastern city of Tobruk.

Correction 9 December 2015: This report has been amended to remove an unrelated comment by a UN envoy that had been inadvertently included.

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