Libya rejects UN-backed peace deal and unity government

The unity government was seen as crucial to stemming widespread unrest in the country

Libya's internationally recognised parliament has voted to reject a unity government proposed under a United Nations backed plan to resolve the country's political crisis and armed conflict.

Of 104 members attending the session in the eastern city of Tobruk, 89 voted against backing the government proposed by Libya's Presidential Council last week. 

Since 2014, Libya has had two competing parliaments and governments, one based in Tripoli and the other in the east. Both are backed by loose alliances of armed groups and former rebels who helped oust Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The unity government proposals and agreement were the result of months of negotiations, and were backed by some members of both rival factions.

Lawmaker Mohamed al-Abani told Reuters that the proposed administration also did not represent the interests of the Libyan people but had been formed "according to the demands of militia leaders".

The UN and Western diplomats had urged Libyans to back the agreements as a step towards ending the turmoil that has gripped the country since the toppling of Gaddafi. The chaos engulfing the country has enabled the so-called Islamic State to expand its influence rapidly. In recent weeks the extremist group has launched attacks from its stronghold in the city of Sirte on facilities in the “oil crescent” along the country’s northern coast.

Additional reporting by Reuters