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Libya’s new parliament calls for unity as rival militias clash

Published on Aug 5, 2014 5:05 AM
Filipino workers arriving at Ninoy Aquino International Airport from conflict-torn Libya wait with their belongings at the airport in Manila August 4, 2014. The Philippine government was encouraging all workers still in Libya to flee the country while exit routes remain open, according to the Foreign Affairs Ministry. Many foreign governments have pulled out their diplomatic staff amid the unrest. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

TRIPOLI (REUTERS) – Libya’s new parliament appealed for national unity at its first formal session on Monday as rival armed factions battled for dominance of a country struggling to hold itself together three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

Hours before parliament met in the eastern city of Tobruk, heavy artillery and rocket fire hit southern and western parts of the capital Tripoli, where Islamist-leaning Misrata brigades have been fighting for three weeks to oust rival militias.

Lawmakers gathered in a heavily guarded hotel in Tobruk because three weeks of fighting in Tripoli and Benghazi had made Libya’s two main cities unsafe for the parliamentary session.

Western nations, which have mostly pulled their diplomats out of the North African country due to the fighting, hope that the new assembly can nudge the warring factions towards a ceasefire and negotiations to end a political deadlock.

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