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Libya government spurns UN plan, putting Berlin talks in question

Libya's recognized, but practically exiled, government has rejected the UN's latest power-sharing plan for the conflict-ridden country. This puts peace talks planned for Wednesday in Berlin into serious doubt.

UN envoy Bernardino Leon (pictured) was full of optimism for his new draft solution to Libya's power struggle, the formation of a one-year government of national accord.

"We have distributed, as you will have seen, a new proposed agreement. All I can tell you for now is that the reaction is positive," Leon told journalists.

The deal, drafted at talks in Morocco, would have sought an accord between the elected Libyan government, currently banished to the far eastern city of Tobruk, and the unelected administration that holds Tripoli. The UN has sought four such accords for Libya in the turmoil since the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi's regime.

Tobruk administration decries deal

The Tobruk-based government has rejected the proposal, arguing that Leon "succumbed" to Islamist demands for a power-sharing accord.

"Leon brought us to square one ... to appease an ideological group in a horrible way," Essa Abdel-Kauoum, a spokesman for the government's negotiating team, told the Associated Press. "He succumbed to extortion."

Abdel-Kauoum also said that his delegation would not be attending Wednesday's planned talks in the German capital. European and African leaders were expected at the Berlin summit.

Similarly, Libyan lawmaker Tarik al-Jaroushi told Reuters news agency that the parliament rejected the UN proposal.

"A majority of deputies voted to reject the proposal," the senior lawmaker said in a phone interview with the news agency.

Opposition on board

Mohammed Sawan, the leader of the political arm of Libya's Muslim Brotherhood, issued a statement "welcoming" the new draft.

"We think this has achieved a tangible positive improvement which should be taken seriously and built upon to reach an agreement that ends the political division and achieves stability," said Sawan, who heads the Justice and Construction party.

The latest UN proposal followed a day after G7 leaders urged the warring factions to take "bold political decisions" to end the conflict. The G7 added that it would "provide significant support" to assist a unity government in rebuilding the country.

Libya descended into chaos in 2011 after Gadhafi's NATO-backed ouster, as a deadly conflict between secular forces and Islamist-oriented militias emerged in the power vacuum. Both Libya's rival administrations have been figting the "Islamic State," which has seized several Libyan settlements and won pledges of allegiance from some local militias.

ls, msh/mkg (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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