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Libyan panel says charter vote set for March

September 11, 2014

CAIRO (AP) — Libyans are to vote on a draft constitution in March, the state news agency said Thursday, but with militias controlling the capital Tripoli and large swaths of the country, holding a nation-wide vote will be a major challenge.

The news agency quoted panel member Abdel-Moneim al-Sherif as saying that an initial copy of the constitution will be released for public debate in late December. Tasked with writing the document, 60 elected panel members have been meeting in the eastern city of Bayda.

Libya has witnessed the worst spasm of violence since the toppling and killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi three years ago. To maintain order, succeeding governments have relied on militias, some of which have subsequently turned against elected authorities.

Last month Islamist-allied militias seized the capital, Tripoli, and the country’s second-largest city, Benghazi, forcing the elected parliament and government to convene in the eastern city of Tobruk. Tripoli-based militias have revived the old parliament and created a parallel government, in defiance of the country’s elected officials.

After meeting with rival political groups, United Nations envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon on Wednesday urged a truce. He said that a “cease-fire must be total if we want political contacts and political talks to be successful.”

Leon’s visit followed last month’s U.N. Security Council resolution, which called for an immediate cease-fire and warned of targeted sanctions for individuals and groups threatening the country’s stability.

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