August 27, 2015 / 2:12 PM / 3 years ago

Libyan peace talks disrupted again after faction negotiator quits

SKHIRAT, Morocco (Reuters) - Libya’s unofficial government dropped out of the latest round of U.N.-backed peace talks on Thursday, soon before they were due to start, in another disruption to efforts to end months of conflict.

Bernardino Leon (3rd L), U.N. special envoy for Libya, attends a meeting with members of the Libyan General National Congress in Tripoli March 2, 2015. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouni

A representative of the faction said it needed more time to form a new negotiation team after a senior member quit, and would return to the table when it was ready, but gave no indication of when that might be.

The United Nations formally opened the session with other groups in the Moroccan city of Skhirat, but there was little prospect of any progress without one of the main sides in a conflict that has brought Libya to its knees in the four years since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

The faction took over Libya’s capital Tripoli last year, forcing the internationally-recognized government and its elected parliament to move east.

Armed groups loyal to both sides have continued to fight over territory and resources. Islamist militants, including Islamic State, have also gained ground.

The recognized government agreed to a peace deal last month, but the Tripoli faction refused to sign. The latest round of talks was meant to iron out remaining differences.

A senior member of the Tripoli delegation quit on Wednesday following what his political party described as differences with the head of the Tripoli parliament, known as the GNC, over the talks.

Both sides face divisions and pressure from hardliners.

“This is not because we want to leave the U.N. dialogue,” Mowafaq Hawas, a representative of that parliament, told Reuters about the delay.

The United Nations issued a statement saying the Libyan faction had agreed to take part in the next round, but did not give a date.

All sides have been discussing a U.N. proposal that calls for a one-year government of national accord in which a council of ministers headed by a prime minister and two deputies would have executive authority.

Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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