The U.S. and U.N. have welcomed a declaration by Libyan lawmakers in support of a proposed unity government, but expressed concern about reported intimidation of members of parliament by those who oppose the accord.
A majority of members (100 out of 196) of the internationally recognized parliament in Tobruk signed a statement Tuesday saying they agree with the latest in a string of plans to establish a unity government with rivals based in Tripoli. But a vote on the proposal was not held because of threats against them.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement Wednesday the United States strongly supports "these courageous Libyans as they move ahead with the Government of National Accord."
In testimony to Congress, Kerry highlighted the urgency of Libya's political crisis, which has persisted since the overthrow of former leader Moammar Gadhafi.
"If they cannot get themselves together, yes it will be a failed state," Kerry said.
FILE - Fighters are seen firing a vehicle-mounted weapon on the outskirts of Sidra, Libya. Libya's political crisis has persisted since the overthrow of former leader Moammar Gadhafi.
The U.N.'s envoy for Libya Martin Kobler said the statement by Libyan lawmakers shows "the strong determination of the people of Libya and the overwhelming support by the majority" of the parliament for the unity government plan.
He urged parliamentary leaders to immediately work to formalize the endorsement, and said they have a duty to ensure the process is free from threats and intimidation.
The U.N. has been mediating negotiations between the Libyan parties in search of an agreement to unite them and help re-establish a strong central government. The turmoil in Libya has included a drop in the country's important oil industry, as well as extremists groups such as Islamic State seizing territory.