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Libya's Government Pulls Out of National Dialogue Talks

  • Edward Yeranian

Libyan security forces inspect the site of a bomb explosion at the entrance of the residence of the Iranian ambassador in the capital Tripoli, Feb. 22, 2015.

Libyan security forces inspect the site of a bomb explosion at the entrance of the residence of the Iranian ambassador in the capital Tripoli, Feb. 22, 2015.

Libya's internationally recognized parliament based in Tobruk voted Monday to pull out of U.N.-sponsored national dialogue talks with a rival government based in Tripoli.

The vote to suspend participation in the U.N.-sponsored dialogue talks came as emotions continued to run high, after last week's car-bomb attacks in the eastern city of Quba which killed over several dozen civilians. The town is the home of parliament speaker Aqelah Saleh.

Member of parliament Omar Gheith says that lawmakers have summoned their delegation to the talks in the Moroccan capital Rabat - due to have been held on Thursday - to return to Tobruk for “consultations”:

"The decision to suspend participation in the talks does not mean parliament intends to 'boycott' them, but that the climate isn't ripe for dialogue following a series of events, including the killings of 21 Egyptian Christians, the car-bombings in Quba which left 55 dead, and given that the other side is not, in his view, serious about talks," said Gheith.

At the same time, in the capital Tripoli, which is under the control of the Islamist Fajr militia coalition, members of a national dialogue committee under the auspices of the old legislative assembly, the General National Congress, met to discuss the issues under consideration.

Moussa Bigarash, spokesman for the committee, told Qatar-based Libya li Kul al Ahrar TV, that the “Libyan people are demanding a “suspension of hostilities” and “talks."

"Given the recent [violent] turn of events in Libya the time has now come for a national dialogue and Libyan public opinion in its entirety would like to see a suspension of violence and the start of talks," said Bigarash.

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones tweeted that the U.S. “has expressed no preference regarding a national unity government in Libya, except that it be representative and inclusive.”

Paul Sullivan, who teaches at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., tells VOA that Libya is currently "in a downward spiral," unless the country's political actors decide to renounce their "selfish" interests and agree "to work together" and "share the country's (vast natural) resources."

Libya currently has two rival governments in the east and west of the country, although only the Abdallah Thini cabinet under the aegis of the parliament in Tobruk is internationally recognized.

Yet late last year, Libya's supreme court ruled that the parliament in Tobruk was illegal, and should be disbanded.

Former Libyan interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril told Arabiya TV that demands that both the Islamists in Tripoli and the parliament in Tobruk have equal footing were “unfair and would negate the results of a three year political process in which the Islamists were voted down by a majority of Libyan people.”

Libya's representatives to both the United Nations and the Arab League have been urging the U.N. Security Council to lift an arms embargo on the Libyan Army. Military forces in the east, under the command of retired Gen. Halifa Haftar, have been battling rival Islamist forces in the west and pockets of hardline militants in the east, as well.

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