Libya’s warring factions arrived Thursday in Morocco for a fresh round of UN-brokered peace talks aimed at putting an end to months of fighting in the stricken North African state.
The talks involving rival parliaments are expected to begin on Friday, as UN envoy Bernardino Leon struggles to bring the factions to agree steps aimed at forming a national unity government.
The UN has tried for months to broker a compromise in Libya, which descended into lawlessness after the 2011 NATO-backed overthrow of veteran autocrat Moamer Kadhafi.
The oil-rich nation has rival governments and parliaments, and jihadist groups and militants have seized on the chaos to make strategic gains.
The Tripoli-based parliament was set up by the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) militia alliance that seized the capital last year to contest the legitimacy of the Tobruk-based internationally recognised legislature.
“The delegation from Tripoli has arrived along with some independent figures. The one from Tobruk arrives tomorrow (Friday) and we will officially resume discussions,” said United Nations Support Mission in Libya spokesman Samir Ghattas.
“We hope that this will be the final session,” said Ghattas.
Leon told journalists in the Moroccan resort of Skhirat where the talks are to take place that the two sides were “getting closer to a solution”.
Following the last round of talks in Morocco earlier this month, Leon presented both sides with a draft agreement — the forth such proposal — outlining plans to form a unity government in Libya.
The Tripoli government welcomed the draft, adding however that “modifications” would be required before it committed to the plan.
Ghattas said both sides had provisionally approved an amended version of the deal ahead of Friday’s resumption of talks.
“Obviously, the fact that all the participants in the dialogue have accepted the fourth draft as a basis for a final solution is extremely encouraging,” Leon added.
The UN Security Council has urged both Fajr Libya and the internationally recognised government to sign a deal in order to stem rising violence and the growth of extremist organisations such as the Islamic State group on Europe’s doorstep.