TUNIS The body tasked with naming a unity government for Libya under a U.N.-backed agreement to resolve the country's armed conflict has delayed announcing the government's members by 48 hours.
The Presidential Council said in a statement released late on Saturday that it had made "great progress" since beginning discussions on Jan. 1 but needed two more days to complete its work without giving any details.
The delay as well as continuing opposition to the United Nations-mediated deal within Libya signal the challenges in trying to unite factions and militias that have competed for power following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
U.N. Libya envoy Martin Kobler said in a tweet that he "regretted" the delay. "Libya can no longer wait," he said.
Since the summer of 2014 Libya has had two rival governments and parliaments, which operate from the capital Tripoli and from the east. Both are backed by loose alliances of armed brigades of rebels who once fought Gaddafi.
The deal struck in Morocco on Dec. 17 gave the Tunis-based Presidential Council one month to name a Government of National Accord, which Western powers hope will be able to deliver stability to Libya and tackle a growing threat from Islamic State militants.
But the presidents of Libya's competing parliaments and many deputies did not back the agreement, which has been fiercely opposed by some groups within the country.
It is also unclear when and how a new government will be able to establish itself in Libya.
Tripoli is controlled by a faction called Libya Dawn, and the head of the self-declared government that it backs said on Saturday that preparations by the Presidential Council to secure the capital violated military law.
Prime Minister Khalifa al-Ghwell wrote to the attorney general instructing him to investigate 16 out of 18 members of a security committee recently named by the Presidential Council, urging swift legal action against them.
Once the new government's membership is announced, the internationally recognised parliament in eastern Libya will have 10 days to approve it.
(Reporting by Aidan Lewis in Tunis and Ahmed Elumami in Tripoli; Editing by Gareth Jones and Stephen Powell)
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Updated Date: Jan 17, 2016 20:00 PM