Malta welcomes agreement between Libya's rival factions
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Malta welcomes agreement between Libya's rival factions

UN Special Representative and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, Martin Koble.

UN Special Representative and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, Martin Koble.

Malta has welcomed the agreement signed in Morocco today between representatives of Libya's rival governments. 

"Malta strongly appeals that all Libyans rally around their leaders who, in turn, should shoulder their responsibilities, put aside their personal interests and differences and work towards a stable and peaceful Libya. It is now imperative that all efforts are directed towards achieving reconciliation and inclusiveness that are essential requisites in a future Libya," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Foreign Minister George Vella stressed that the agreement should involve all representatives of Libyan society. He also urged the international community to stand by Libya and provide the assistance and expertise that may be required in a vast array of fields. 

The agreement was brokered by the United Nations in the hope that it will bring stability and help fight a growing Islamic State presence.

Four years after Muammar Gaddafi's fall, Libya is deeply fractured with two rival governments - a self-declared one in Tripoli and an internationally recognized one in the east - each backed by coalitions of former rebels and militias.

But the UN deal faces resistance. During a meeting in Malta last Tuesday the heads of both rival parliaments as well as factions within both camps  rejected the agreement, illustrating the risks to establishing a new government on the ground in the North African state.

Critics also question how armed factions on the ground will react and how any new government will be installed and secured in Tripoli.

We have only 75 percent of people who are happy with it. But I think it's a good start

"It is in the nature of this agreement that nobody is entirely happy. This is always like this in difficult situations," UN envoy Martin Kobler told reporters after a briefing in the east. "We have only 75 percent of people who are happy with it. But I think it's a good start." 

Western officials believe war fatigue, promises of foreign aid, the strain on Libya's oil economy and the common threat of Islamic State will help build momentum for the national government and bring onboard opponents.

"We have reached an agreement, but the biggest challenge now is to implement it," said Salah Huma, a parliament member and negotiator for the eastern government.

The chiefs of each rival parliament who rejected the U.N. deal say both men may face international sanctions for blocking a vote on the U.N. agreement.

Since revolution ousted Gaddafi, Libya has struggled with almost constant instability as heavily armed brigades of former rebels and their political allies squabbled for control.

Battered by protests and attacks, oil production that accounts for most government revenue is now less than half of the 1.6 million barrels per day level prior to 2011.

But last year, fighting intensified when one armed faction took over Tripoli, set up its own government and reinstated the old parliament, the General National Congress. Since then, the recognized government and elected House of Representatives operate out of the east of the country.

In the chaos, Islamic State militants have steadily expanded their presence, taking over the city of Sirte, attacking a hotel and a prison in Tripoli, ransacking oilfields to the south of Sirte and executing a group of Egyptian Christians. 

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