Delegates from Libya’s internationally recognized government and from putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar's side on Thursday agreed on the criteria for appointments to their country's key institutions, a joint statement made at talks in Morocco said, while hundreds of people in the city of Benghazi took to the streets to protest dire living conditions.
The sides said they had reached a "comprehensive agreement on criteria and mechanisms" for holding key posts in state institutions, but did not give details.
They added that they would meet again later this month for further discussion on steps to implement the agreement.
They also agreed to pause the talks and resume discussions during the last week of September, according to the accord read out by Idris Omran of the pro-Haftar parliament in Tobruk.
Initial talks between five members of the Tripoli-based, United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and five from the Tobruk parliament took place from Sunday to Tuesday, yielding a joint statement pointing to "important compromises," without divulging details.
The negotiations, dubbed the "Libyan Dialogue," in the coastal town of Bouznika, south of Morocco's capital Rabat, resumed behind closed doors Thursday, an Agence France-Presse (AFP) correspondent said.
In the evening, Omran read out a joint statement to reporters saying the delegates had agreed on "the criteria, transparent mechanisms and objectives" for key posts.
The naming of the heads of Libya's central bank, its National Oil Corporation (NOC) and the armed forces has been the main point of contention, according to Libyan media.
Morocco hosted talks in 2015 that led to the creation of the GNA.
Parallel to the Morocco talks, "consultations" took place in Montreux, Switzerland this week between Libyan stakeholders and members of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said Stephanie Williams, the U.N.'s interim envoy to Libya.
The meetings held on Sept. 7-9 were a follow-up to a call made by the rival Libyan administrations on Aug. 22 calling for an end to hostilities and nationwide elections.
Held under the auspices of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, the Montreux talks "provide a basis for all responsible Libyan stakeholders to forge the way forward," the U.N. envoy said.
Williams also welcomed the meetings in Morocco and said UNSMIL would try to prepare the ground to resume broader Libyan political talks.
"We call upon the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to support this process and to unequivocally respect the Libyan people's sovereign right to determine their future," she said.
The Libyan crisis worsened last year when Haftar, who backs the eastern parliament and is supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Russia, launched an offensive to seize Tripoli from the GNA.
Haftar was beaten back earlier this year by Turkish-backed GNA forces, and fighting has now stalled around the Mediterranean city of Sirte, the gateway to Libya's eastern oil fields and export terminals.
Meanwhile, scores of people protested in Benghazi on Thursday over power cuts and poor living conditions, witnesses said, burning tires and blocking some roads in an unusually public show of dissent in the eastern Libyan city.
Benghazi is Haftar's base in the country's east.
Electricity supply has deteriorated this year, leading to protests last month in Tripoli and adding to poor living standards amid a surge in cases of the coronavirus.
The most immediate cause of the worsening power supply is a lack of fuel for electricity plants. Haftar has accused the Tripoli-based NOC of not importing enough fuel to operate the plants.
The NOC last month warned of worse blackouts in eastern Libya, saying the shortage was caused by Haftar’s monthslong blockade of oil and gas facilities. It said imports of diesel to operate the plants were causing it "severe financial difficulties."
The NOC has appealed for Haftar’s side to end the blockade, which began in January and has drastically cut production, leading to a near-total eclipse of energy revenue – Libya's main source of foreign currency – this year.
Meanwhile, the European Union's maritime force enforcing the U.N. arms embargo on Libya said Thursday it intercepted and redirected a tanker headed for Libya after determining it was carrying jet fuel in possible violation of the ban.
The MV Royal Diamond 7 was en route Thursday from Sharjah, UAE, to Benghazi, Libya, when members of the EU force’s Operation Irini boarded the ship 150 kilometers (93.2 miles) north of the Libyan city of Derna, the EU force said.
Just this week, U.N. experts accused the warring parties in Libya and their international backers – including the UAE, Russia and Jordan on one side, and Turkey and Qatar on the other – of sending weapons and mercenaries to Libya in violation of the “totally ineffective” U.N. embargo.
The statement from the EU mission said its inspection aboard the Marshall Islands-flagged MV Royal Diamond 7 determined the cargo was jet fuel, which it said was “likely” to be used for military purposes.
The mission noted that jet fuel is considered military material by the U.N., which has authorized the EU force to seize weapons and halt weapons-transporting ships bound for Libya.
The mission said it was redirecting the tanker to a European port for further investigation.