September 21, 2015 / 11:05 PM / 2 years ago

U.N. hands Libya factions final text of peace deal

SKHIRAT, Morocco (Reuters) - The United Nations on Monday handed Libya’s warring factions a final draft of a peace accord to end their conflict, telling the factions the U.N.’s work was over and they must take the deal or leave it.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya and Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Bernardino Leon gestures during a news conference after a meeting at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, September 4, 2015. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The U.N.-sponsored agreement, after months of stalled negotiations, aims to end fighting between two rival governments and their armed backers that has pushed Libya close to collapse four years after Muammar Gaddafi’s demise.

Western powers want the U.N. deal to resolve the conflict that has allowed Islamist militants to gain ground in the chaos and smugglers to profit by shipping migrants and asylum seekers from Libya’s coast to Europe.

U.N. envoy Bernardino Leon had set September 20 as a date for a deal. He told reporters on Monday that he hoped the factions would now return to reach a final agreement after the Eid Al-Adha Muslim celebrations this week and before October 20, when the mandate of the elected parliament ends.

“We finished our work, we have a text that it is a final text. So our part in the process is now finished,” Leon said flanked by Western diplomats in the Moroccan city of Skhirat, where much of the recent negotiation has taken place.

“It is up now to the participants to react to this text, but not in terms of adding more comments or getting back to something to negotiate.”

He said all parties had confirmed their willingness to return to discuss representatives for a united government within days and for a deal to be signed in Libya before October 20.

“They can refuse or reject the proposal, but in this case they will be choosing uncertainty, choosing difficulties of working with international community,” Leon said.

Libya has fragmented into two loose rival alliances of former rebels who once fought Gaddafi together but steadily turned against one another in the early years after the 2011 revolution in a battle for control.

Since last year, Tripoli has been controlled by Libya Dawn, an alliance of Islamist-leaning former militias and a powerful armed faction from the city of Misrata that set up a self-declared government and parliament in the capital.

The internationally recognized government and elected parliament has worked out of the east of the country since its armed allies were driven out of the capital. It is backed by a former Gaddafi ally General Khalifa Haftar and a loose formation of other armed groups.

Hardliners from both sides have resisted the peace talks, hoping they can gain more from conflict. But the U.N. deal calls for a one-year united national government, with the current elected parliament as the legislature, and another chamber as a consultative body.

Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Toni Reinhold

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