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Oct 9, 10:11 AM EDT

Protesters briefly block Libyan parliament before session



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Protesters briefly block Libyan parliament before session

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BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) -- Dozens of protesters have briefly blocked the gates of the parliament based in the country's east, preventing a crucial session, lawmakers said on Monday, before negotiations ended the standoff.

The house was to convene for the first time since the new U.N. envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, assumed his post.

Salame has proposed new ideas to break the political stalemate by amending the country's peace deal. Libya is split into competing governments and two parliaments and an array of rival militias.

Lawmaker Fawzia Abu-Ghalia said she flew in from Tripoli for the session in the eastern city of Tobruk but added that she and other lawmakers "found the parliament closed" by protesters, mostly young men demanding their salaries.

Later on the day, Parliament Spokesman Abdullah Ablahig told The Associated Press that negotiations succeeded in ending the protests and the session will be held tonight. He also said that a large number of the parliament's 200 members have arrived over the past days.

The already divided Libya's parliament, which was elected in 2014, has refused to give its vote of confidence to the internationally-recognized government headed by designated prime minister Fayez Serraj. The vote is rooted in the U.N. peace agreement signed among different factions in 2015. However, the parliament insisted on amending a divisive article in the agreement which keeps the command of the army under the parliament instead of giving it to Serraj.

Libya fell into chaos after the ouster and killing of its longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The country's divisions and power and security vacuum have empowered hundreds of militias to become the real power on the ground. Human trafficking and fuel smuggling also thrived.

In the city of Sabratha, the northwestern city which is a major transit point of migrants heading to Europe across the Mediterranean, weeks of fierce fighting among militias left thousands of migrants stranded.

According to UNHCR, there are around 6,000 migrants scattered throughout several detention centers in the city and who are in need for assistance. A sharp drop has been recorded the past months in migrants crossing the sea to Europe after Italy and the U.N.-brokered government in Libya struck a deal with Sabratha's militias to intercept migrants heading to Europe.

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