Africa

Libya: Rival parliament leaders hold first meeting

Agila Salah (l) and Nouri Abusahmen (r), rival Libyan leaders Image copyright Reuters/AFP
Image caption Both men's administrations claim to be the legitimate authority representing Libyans

The heads of Libya's two rival parliaments have met for the first time, Libyan television reported.

Agila Salah, from the internationally recognised congress in the eastern city of Tobruk, and Nouri Abusahmen, from the Tripoli-based General National Congress, held talks in Malta.

But the expected signing of a UN plan for a national unity government has been put back until Thursday.

Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

Amid the turmoil the country has become a major departure point for some of the thousands of migrants travelling to Europe.

There is also international concern that the so-called Islamic State group is taking advantage of the instability to expand inside Libya.

Future problems?

The meeting in Malta between the two men follows weekend talks in Rome in which world powers urged Libya's warring factions to stop fighting and back a unity government.

Whether they will sign is far from certain. Mr Salah pleaded for more time, warning that "acting hastily would lead to more problems in the future", the Times of Malta reported.

For his part Mr Abusahmen said "we will not accept foreign intervention against the will of the Libyan people" referring to the UN-backed deal.

There are divisions within both parliaments on the UN accord. One GNC member told Associated Press the two leaders are attempting to forge a separate deal without UN involvement.

The signing is scheduled for late morning local time on Thursday in Morocco.