Long-awaited breakthrough in Libya’s political deadlock

Tripoli government and internationally recognised Tobruk-based congress agree to hold elections within two years.

Libya’s bitter political rivals have signed an agreement aimed at resolving the country’s deep political crisis with elections to be held within two years.

A declaration announced on Sunday said the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC) and the internationally recognised Tobruk-based House of Representatives also agreed to form a 10-member committee to help choose a government of national reconciliation.

“This is a historic moment the Libyans were waiting for, the Arabs were waiting for and the world was waiting for,” said Mohammed Awad Abdul-Sadiq, the first deputy head of GNC after the talks.

The conflict between the two powerful factions erupted more than a year ago when they set up rival governments and parliaments in a battle for control of the oil-rich North African nation.

GNC and House of Representatives politicians are expected to name an interim president and a deputy within two weeks.

The agreement comes ahead of UN-brokered peace talks to be held in Rome on December 13.

Rise of ISIL

The United States, EU members and Middle Eastern countries will take part in the summit as concern rises about the growing influence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in central Libya.

Jason Pack, president of Libya-analysis.com, said the agreement was a “positive step in the right direction” but warned against too much optimism.

“Many actors, both in Tobruk and Tripoli were disappointed, not only with the corruption within the UN mediating process, but with the way it was jammed down Libyan throats,” Pack said, speaking to Al Jazeera from New York.

UN says ISIL exploiting Libya security vacuum

“I don’t see anything changing immediately, but what I hope would happen is that Misratan militias would work with pro-Haftar moderate elements in the fight against ISIL. That operational cooperation is unlikely to happen immediately but down the road – if we get lucky – it could materialise,” Pack added.

“The West has bombed one ISIL leader, but these pinprick attacks are not a strategy… What’s really needed is that we box out disruptive outside actors like Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Turkey… Let the Libyans try to come together and solve their own problems.”

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said there was an increasing risk of Libya becoming a haven for ISIL, even as Western nations target the group in Iraq and Syria with air strikes.

“We see foreign jihadists arriving in the region of Syrte [northern Libya] who – if our operations in Syria and Iraq succeed in reducing the territorial reach of Daesh [ISIL] – could tomorrow be more numerous,” Le Drian told the Jeune Afrique weekly, which was published on Sunday.

Le Drian ruled out military intervention in Libya but warned the West had to try to foster Libyan unity in the face of such a threat.

“It is a major risk and that’s why there absolutely must be understanding between the Libyans,” said Le Drian.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies