Libya Rival Parliaments Hold First Joint Talks on New Government

Libya’s two rival parliaments met for the first time to start discussions on a proposed unity government to lead the war-torn OPEC member until elections in December.

Monday’s joint session was attended by 132 members drawn from the Tobruk-based parliament, which backed eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar, and the rival assembly in Tripoli, the capital.

It was held in the central coastal city of Sirte. “Today we turn the pages of the past forever,” Aguila Saleh, speaker of the eastern-based parliament, told members as he presided over the talks.

It’s the latest test of efforts to unify the North African nation that has been roiled by conflict since a NATO-backed revolt ousted dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi in 2011, eventually leading to the establishment of dueling administrations.

Prime Minister-designate Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah, who was chosen by delegates to a United Nations-supported forum in Geneva, presented proposals to Saleh last month.

Dbeibah didn’t attend Monday’s discussions but speaking earlier he urged representatives to put the nation’s interests first and allow his government to swiftly begin work.

He has proposed a government of 27 ministries, six state ministers and two deputy prime ministers. Five of the portfolios would be held by women, including foreign affairs and international cooperation, culture and justice, according to a list seen by Bloomberg.

While some lawmakers supported for blueprint, others objected to its size or suggested ministers.

The proposal involves the restoration of an oil and gas ministry to work alongside the National Oil Corp. and be headed by a representative of western Libya. Mohamed Aoun, a former Libyan representative to OPEC, is Dbeibah’s pick for the post.

Forming a unified government in the country that’s home to Africa’s largest oil reserves would help stabilize energy production, a key income source that’s been blighted by repeated clashes and closures.

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