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Libya’s rival factions to ink peace pact

Rival parliaments have agreed to sign a UN-backed deal next week to end chaotic fighting. Both sides want a national unity government to confront rise of Islamist militias.

A United Nations initiative to get Libya's two rival governments and armed factions to end their war moved forward Friday after the two sides agreed on a December 16 deadline to reach an agreement.

"Many problems remain, but this has to be solved by the new government in place. That's what governments are there for," UN Libya envoy Martin Kobler said in Tunisia after two days of talks.

Boosters of the deal say an agreement would open the way for the international community to support Libya in the fight against Islamic State, which has gained ground in the chaos and controls the western city of Sirte.

For more than a year, the capital Tripoli has been controlled by an armed faction called Libya Dawn, a coalition of former rebel brigades from Misrata and other armed factions that battled to force out rivals.

They set up a self-styled government and reinstated the old parliament, known as the General National Congress. Meanwhile, the internationally recognized government and the elected House of Representatives were forced to operate out of the east.

Both factions are backed by loose alliances of former rebel brigades, tribal fighters and former Gadhafi soldiers and senior officers.

"Libya is in a race against time," Kobler said. "Its very social fabric, national unity and territorial integrity is directly endangered by the forces of extremism and terrorism."

The North African oil-rich state has suffered from four years of war and chaos following the NATO-backed ouster of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The country's oil output is also now at less than half of the 1.6 million barrels per day that it produced before Gadhafi fell, leaving the central bank and state oil company struggling to manage an economy heavily dependent on crude.

Gadhafi's son freed

Porträt - Hannibal Gaddafi

Hannibal Gadhafi had appeared in a video aired late Friday on local Al-Jadeed TV saying anyone with information about ong missing Imam Moussa al-Sadr should come forward.

In Lebanon, security services report that the son of the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has been released after beingabducted by suspected Shiite militants.

Lebanese reportedly police freed Hannibal Gadhafi in the northeastern city of Baalbek and were set to debrief him in Beirut.

The high-flying businessman who once faced criminal charges in Switzerland for allegedly assaulting his servants at a Geneva hotel, had appeared bruised and beaten on a Beirut-based TV channel pleading for information on the fate of a Shiite cleric who disappeared decades ago in Libya.

Affiliation of the militant group suspected of kidnapping the 40-year-old businessman in Lebanon remains unclear.

jar/bw (AFP, AP)

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