Walking Backwards

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Libya’s rival factions failed to reach a deal on constitutional arrangements for elections this week, a development that has raised concerns about another potential split in the North African country following more than a decade of civil war, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

On Monday, lawmakers from Libya’s east-based parliament and the Tripoli-based High Council of State ended the United Nations-brokered talks in Egypt.

UN special adviser on Libya, Stephanie Williams, said the officials agreed to meet next month. She said they were working to reach a deal on a constitutional and legislative framework for parliamentary and presidential elections.

The negotiations halted less than two years after the warring factions agreed to an UN-backed ceasefire to create an interim unity government and end years of conflict following the ouster of autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The interim government led by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah was to usher the country toward elections scheduled in December 2021. But those polls failed to materialize amid disputes over election rules.

The east-based parliament then named Fathi Bashagha as the country’s new interim prime minister, saying that Dbeibah’s mandate ended after the vote failed to take place.

However, Dbeibah rejected efforts to replace him and said he would only hand over power to an elected government.

The situation has escalated with heavily armed militias mobilizing in western Libya. Meanwhile, tribal leaders and protesters in the southern region have shut down oil facilities, including Libya’s largest oil field, demanding Dbeibah’s resignation.

The region is controlled by forces loyal to eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar.

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