June 9, 2015 / 1:08 PM / 2 years ago

Libya's elected parliament rejects U.N. unity government proposal

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - A United Nations proposal to form a unity government for Libya, which has rival administrations fighting for territory and oil resources, was rejected by one of the sides on Tuesday, a senior lawmaker said, after months of negotiations.

The elected parliament, based in eastern Libya, rejected the proposal and withdrew from the talks aimed at ending the crippling power struggle. Libya’s official government has been based in the east since a rival faction seized Tripoli in August, setting up a rival administration.

The decision was a blow to efforts by U.N. Special Envoy Bernardino Leon, who presented the draft proposal on Monday after hosting months of talks between the rival sides.

Four years after a NATO-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, the conflict has battered Libya’s oil industry and allowed Islamic State militants to exploit the security vacuum and expand.

The eastern parliament has banned its delegates from traveling to Germany for a meeting with European and North African leaders to discuss Leon’s proposal, lawmaker Tareq al-Jouroushi told Reuters.

“A majority of deputies voted to reject the proposal,” he said by telephone from Tobruk, an eastern city where the House of Representatives is based. The house’s spokesman Farraj Hashem could not immediately be reached for comment.

Leon submitted his fourth proposal for a unity government on Monday and delegates from both factions had been expected to head to Germany before returning for consultations and then traveling to Morocco for more talks.

The U.N. proposal calls for a year-long government of national accord, where a council of ministers headed by a prime minister with two deputies will have executive authority.

Jouroushi said lawmakers objected to including the Tripoli parliament in the U.N. proposal. “The proposal does not reflect the legitimacy of the elected parliament,” he said.

The House of Representatives will be the only legislative body, the deal states. The accord also calls for a 120-member State Council consultative body, consisting of members of the Tripoli parliament.

Both sides in the conflict are under pressure from hardliners who favor a military solution.

Jouroushi is the son of the eastern government’s air force commander, whose force has been battling Islamists in Benghazi.

In the central city of Sirte, Islamic State seized a power plant on the western outskirts, killing three members of a force sent from Tripoli to protect the plant, a military source said.

The militants had already seized the city and its airport to the south.

Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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