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Libya's rival factions sign UN-brokered peace deal

Libya's two rival governments have signed a UN-backed deal aimed at putting an end to violence between militias loyal to each. Diplomats hope the agreement will help combat a growing "Islamic State" presence.

Delegates from the two assemblies signed the power-sharing deal at a televised ceremony in the Moroccan resort town of Skhirat on Thursday.

This follows UN-sponsored negotiations, which have lasted nearly a year, in the Moroccan resort of Skhirat. It envisages a national unity government, with an end to infighting between forces loyal to the rival camps.

"Today is a historic day for Libya," UN envoy Martin Kobler told the signing ceremony. "This is just the beginning of a long journey for Libya. Signing is only the first step on the road to putting Libya back on the right track."

The deal could help pave the way for international help for the country in its fight against the self-styled "Islamic State" (IS) militant group, which exploited the infighting to establish a presence.

However, the agreement faces resistance from factions within both Libya's rival parliaments, including the presidents of both assemblies.

"The door is always open to those who are not here today," Kobler added, acknowledging the differences that pervade. "The new government must move urgently to address the concerns of those who feel marginalized."

After the fall of late leader Moammar Gadhafi, Libya became fractured between various militant groups and the two rival governments - one in the east of the country and one in the west. The Islamist-leaning General National Congress is based in the capital Tripoli, while the centrist-dominated House of Representatives sits in Tobruk, near the Egyptian border.

rc/msh (dpa, Reuters)