TOBRUK, Libya (AP) — The newly inaugurated Libyan parliament has threatened to act against warring militias who don’t abide by its call for an immediate cease-fire, which it said would be supervised by the United Nations.
The parliament’s call late Wednesday is among its first since it convened in the eastern city of Tobruk, after violence swept through the capital, Tripoli, and Libya’s second largest city of Benghazi.
In a statement obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday, the parliament called on “all warring parties without exception,” to enact an “immediate and unconditional ceasefire, ending all violence and attacks on civilians and civilian areas.”
Any U.N. supervision of a cease-fire would require approval from the U.N. Security Council.
Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, the current Security Council president, told the AP: “I’ve just seen these reports. As far as I know we have not received any request for U.N. supervision of a cease-fire. If we do, then we’ll obviously look at it.”
Also on Wednesday, the parliament made changes to a previous constitutional declaration, giving itself more powers it said would help it rein in out-of-control militias.
The parliament’s call could very well fall on deaf ears however, like several other appeals for cease-fires made by the outgoing interim government. Militias have grown in power since the toppling of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
The decision came as representatives of the governments of neighboring Egypt and Algeria, as well as the United States, expressed “deep concern” about violence in Libya and possible regional repercussions. In a statement issued after the representatives met on Wednesday, the group urged for an immediate ceasefire and talks and expressed opposition to “outside interference in Libya’s transition.”
Some politicians and lawmakers expressed support for international intervention to help stabilize the country. Awash with weapons and dominated by militia fighters, they say only an outside force can put an end to the fighting.
While many Libyans fear foreign intervention would only spark full-fledged civil war, advocates of the idea want to see a repeat to the NATO intervention in 2011 that broke the back of Gadhafi’s heavily armed brigades.
Violence has forced the United Nations, embassies, foreign nationals and Libyans to flee the country.
Also Thursday, Egypt’s state-run news agency reported that 11,000 Egyptians have fled Libya over the past two days through the eastern Saloum border crossing to Egypt. It quoted the head of the crossing, Hussein al-Mabbadi, as saying 5,000 crossed on Wednesday. Libya depends heavily on foreign workers, and Egyptians are considered a main part of the labor pool, with an estimated 600,000 working there.
AP writer Edith Lederer contributed from the United Nations
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