Libya's rivals agree 'to sign UN-backed deal'

United Nations special for Libya, Martin Kobler (C) heads a meeting with warring Libyan factions on 10 December 2015 in Tunis. Image copyright AFP
Image caption United Nations special for Libya Martin Kobler (C) led the meeting in Tunis

Rival Libyan groups have announced that they will sign a UN-backed political agreement next week.

The announcement came after two days of talks in Tunisia between senior political leaders and representatives from Libya's rival parliaments.

The deal includes the formation of a National Unity Government. It is not yet clear whether the two full parliaments will also agree.

Libya has been unstable since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in October 2011.

Salah el-Makhzoum, a vice-president of the Tripoli-based parliament, called this a "happy day".

An official of the internationally recognised parliament, Mohammed Choueib, said that "after lengthy efforts... we announce to our people that we have decided to move beyond this difficult period... and ask everyone to join us", the AFP news agency reported.

No location has been confirmed for the signing on 16 December, but several have said it will most likely be in Skhirat, Morocco.

Libya has two rival parliaments.

The internationally-recognised government has a parliament based in the eastern city of Tobruk.

In Tripoli, another body - the General National Congress (GNC) - claims to be the legitimate government. Both parliaments are backed by rival militia groups.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Libya is still controlled by rival militias

The MPs that announced the latest agreement are both at odds with their own parliaments, but they claim to have the backing of the majority of MPs, respectively, and can therefore go ahead with the plan, said the BBC's Rana Jawad in Tunis.

The proposed final document was first announced in October but both parliaments rejected the deal.

This time the signing is likely to go ahead without a formal vote on the matter back in Libya, senior members of the UN-led dialogue team told the BBC.

It is seen as a significant step by the international community, our correspondent says.

Separate talks in Tunis between rival groups on Sunday led to another deal intended to establish a single government and elections within two years.

But this deal is not supported by the UN.

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