November 2, 2015 / 6:59 PM / 2 years ago

U.N. pushes for final Libyan unity agreement

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The United Nations on Monday urged Libya’s warring factions to agree on a unity government after they were offered proposals to ease concerns over regional distribution in a U.N.-backed power-sharing deal.

A United Nations logo is seen on a glass door in the Assembly Building at the United Nations headquarters in New York City September 18, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files

The U.N. said in a statement after consultations with both sides that a proposed presidential council would be expanded from six to nine members, including a prime minister, five deputy premiers and three senior ministers.

Members of Libya’s two rival parliaments were scheduled to meet separately to discuss the UN proposal on Tuesday.

The product of months of negotiations, the U.N. proposal for a national government includes members of both factions and attempts to reflect Libya’s traditional regional balance. Hardliners have resisted the deal.

Four years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, the North African state is mired in a conflict between two rival governments and loose coalitions of armed factions that back them in a struggle for control.

Libya’s recognized government and its elected parliament have operated out of the eastern city of Tobruk since the Libyan Dawn armed faction took over the capital Tripoli last year, set up a government and reinstated the former parliament.

The country has no national army. Rebel militias fought together against Gaddafi in 2011, but then turned against one another and are often more loyal to their cities or tribes or Libya’s east, west or southern regions than to the state.

Western governments see the U.N. deal as the best option to deal with Libya’s crisis, which has allowed Islamic State fighters to gain ground and people smugglers to take advantage of the chaos to ship thousands of migrants to Europe.

The European Union says a unity government would bring more financial aid and training support to rebuild a national army, but officials are also mulling sanctions against political leaders who block a deal.

Reporting by Patrick Markey; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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