Western powers in Rome push for Libya unity deal

Rome – Foreign ministers are expected to endorse a UN-brokered national unity plan for Libya at a Rome conference aimed at prodding the North Africa country’s bickering factions to fulfil their commitment to sign the agreement and abide by its terms.
Libya slid into chaos following the 2011 toppling and killing of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi. Since then, it has been torn between a UN-recognised government in eastern Tobruk and a Tripoli-based government, and now faces threats from the Islamic State (ISIS).
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni on Sunday co-hosted a meeting that also included top diplomats and senior officials from 16 nations, the African Union, the Arab League and the UN.
The officials are to endorse the UN deal that Libya’s bickering factions have said they intend to sign in Morocco on Wednesday.
The plan calls for the creation within 40 days of a national unity government that would then seek security assistance from outside parties to ease the conflict and concentrate on ISIS.
It would give the Libyans until early February to form a presidency council that would appoint a cabinet, including chiefs of the central bank and national oil company, and begin the process of moving the Tobruk-based parliament back to Tripoli.
Libya’s oil industry has been largely crippled by the crisis. Proper management, as well as that of the central bank, is considered essential to the country’s viability.
The plan would extend the reconstituted parliament’s term by one year and allow for an automatic one-year extension of its mandate beyond that, if necessary.
The UN Security Council is expected to approve of the agreement shortly after it is signed by the Libyans.
ISIS is trying to extend its influence beyond areas it now controls, including the city of Sirte. The envisioned “government of national accord” is seen as critically important to help restore security and to mobilise international support to counter the extremists.

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