UN: Libya rival officials fail to agree on election terms

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Libyan officials from the country's rival camps failed to reach an agreement on a constitutional framework for national elections, in the latest U.N.-led efforts to bridge the gaps between the factions.

After two days of U.N.-mediated talks in Geneva, disagreement persists among the two senior Libyan officials from the country's rival camps, on the eligibility requirements for the candidates in the first presidential elections.

The rivalry has sparked fears tjhat the oil-rich country could slide back to fighting after tentative steps toward unity last year.

Despite failing to agree on a framework for elections, the two Libyan leaders reached “unprecedented consensus" on issues such as the headquarters and distribution of seats for the two legislative chambers, distribution of powers among different executive authorities, delineation of provinces and other matters.

- The story so far -

The Tripoli-based council insist on banning military personnel as well as dual citizens from running for the country´s top post - apparently a move directed at the divisive Libyan commander Khalifa Hifter, a U.S. citizen whose forces are loyal to the east-based administration.

Hifter had announced his bid in elections that were slated for last December but the vote was not held because of myriad issues, including controversial hopefuls who had announced bids and disputes about election laws.

"I urge the two chambers to overcome the pending disagreement as soon as possible," said Stephanie Williams, the U.N. special adviser on Libya, the influential speaker of the country´s east-based parliament. "I also continue to urge all actors and parties in Libya against taking any precipitous action and emphasize that calm and stability must be maintained."

There are growing tensions on the ground, and sporadic clashes between rival militias recently erupted in Tripoli. Living conditions have also deteriorated, mainly because of fuel shortages in the oil-rich nation. Tribal leaders have shut down many oil facilities, including the country´s largest field.

The blockade was largely meant to cut off key state revenues to the incumbent Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who has refused to step down. His opponents claim his mandate expired on Dec. 25, when the elections were supposed to take place.

The developments surrounding the non-vote plunged Libya deeper into political turmoil, with two rival administrations - one led by Dbeibah in Tripoli and another by Prime Minister Fathy Bashagha, appointed by the east-based parliament in February. Both Dbeibah and Bashagha claim power.

Libya has been wrecked by conflict since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The country was then for years split between rival administrations in the east and west, each supported by different militias and foreign governments.

***AP***

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