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Nov 21, 8:00 AM EST

Libya's parliament votes in favor of new UN road map



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BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) -- The barely functioning Libyan parliament voted on Tuesday in favor of a new United Nations action plan, which is aimed at giving new life to stalled political talks and healing the country's deep divisions.

Abdullah Ablahig, spokesman for the Libyan House of Representatives - which is based in the eastern city of Tobrouk - told The Associated Press that parliament convened Tuesday and voted in favor of the new U.N. envoy Ghassan Salame's road map. The new plan is designed to pave the way for future parliamentary and presidential elections and a vote on a new constitution.

Under the new plan, Libya will have a smaller presidential council that carries out the functions of head of state with nearly the same powers as the previous council, while a new government will be formed before a national conference is held.

The presidential council will be composed of three members - a president and two deputies - instead of nine and the parliament along with another Tripoli-based consultative body known as the State Council will elect council members. The presidential council names a prime minister a week after its formation while the prime minister forms a government two weeks after his appointment.

As for the longtime divisive article number 8, which states that the council commands the armed forces, the parliament has voted in favor of it, according to Ablahig. The parliament has been enjoying such power and has derailed the previous U.N. plan to keep it.

Giving up command on the army could underline divisions between the parliament and its onetime ally Khalifa Hifter, the commander of the Libyan National Army which answers to parliament. Hifter has used his influence in the past to prevent a parliament vote in favor of giving the presidential council the upper hand over the army.

The presidential council and the government will remain in power until new elections.

Libya sank into lawlessness years after the ouster and killing of Moammar Gadhafi. Since 2014, the country has been split into rival governments with one based in eastern Libya and the second based in western Libya.

In 2015, a new political agreement brokered by the U.N. gave birth to the presidential council. The council chaired by Fayez Serraj needed the parliament's vote of confidence on a new government, which never happened, stalling the political process.

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