December 16, 2015 / 12:21 PM / 2 years ago

Libya peace deal delayed again over logistics - U.N.

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The signing of a long-delayed peace deal between Libya’s warring factions has been pushed back again to Thursday because of logistical problems, a U.N. spokesman said on Wednesday.

General view shows damage at the scene of an explosion at the Mislattah checkpoint near Khoms, on the coast road between Tripoli and Misrata Libya November 24, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Representatives from Libya’s two rival factions were due to agree the U.N.-backed accord on Wednesday after months of wrangling and opposition from hardliners in both camps.

The pact called for a unity government to bring together two rival administrations and parliaments that have emerged four years after revolt ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

“It (the signing) will be delayed for logically reasons until tomorrow,” the U.N. spokesman said.

Libya has one internationally-recognized administration in the east and a self-declared one that took over the capital after fighting erupted last year. Each is backed by competing armed factions.

Western officials hope that even if the agreement faces opposition, that war fatigue, worries over Libya’s economy, promises of international aid and the common threat of Islamic State militants will help bring critics onboard.

But questions remain about how the myriad of armed factions on the ground will react, how the new unity government would be established in Tripoli and how much political sway those accepting the deal have in Libya.

The presidents of both rival parliaments met on Tuesday for the first time since the latest fighting started more than a year ago - a move they said was a sign of progress. But they both dismissed the U.N. deal as a foreign imposition.

“We met to find a solution of the Libyan crisis and to let the world know that we are able to work our problems by ourselves,” Aguila Saleh, president of the elected House of Representatives in the east, told reporters.

Nuri Abu Sahmain, head of the rival General National Congress in Tripoli, said they would consider parts of the U.N. accord, but asked the international community to consider their meeting as a way to a Libyan consensus.

Some Western diplomats said the two parliament leaders are the main block to getting support and a vote on a U.N. deal and they could be the target of sanctions if an agreement is signed without them.

Islamic State militants have gained a foothold inside Libya in the security chaos, controlling Sirte city, drawing more foreign fighters away from the group’s main Middle East stronghold in Iraq and Syria.

Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Writing by Patrick Markey; E£diting by Andrew Heavens

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