Stephanie Williams, United Nations Special Adviser on Libya, in a file photo. Image Credit: REUTERS

Cairo: After two days of UN-mediated talks in Geneva, two senior Libyan officials from the country’s rival camps failed to reach an agreement on a constitutional framework for national elections, the United Nations envoy to Libya said Thursday.

According to Stephanie Williams, the UN special adviser on Libya, the influential speaker of the country’s east-based parliament, Aguila Saleh, and Khaled Al Meshri, head of the government’s Supreme Council of State, based in the west in the capital of Tripoli, could not reach an agreement on the eligibility criteria for presidential nominees.

The talks in Geneva were the latest in UN-led efforts to bridge the gaps between the factions after the last round of talks in the Egyptian capital of Cairo failed to make headway.

“Despite the progress in this week’s negotiations between the heads of the respective chambers, disagreement persists on the eligibility requirements for the candidates in the first presidential elections,’’ said Williams.

Reports in local media in Libya have said that requirements for a presidential candidacy have been the most contentious point in all previous rounds of talks.

The Tripoli-based council insist on banning military personnel as well as dual citizens from running for the country’s top post — apparently a move directed at Libyan commander Khalifa Hafter, a US citizen whose forces are loyal to the east-based administration.

Hafter had announced his bid in elections that were slated for last December but the vote was not held because of myriad issues, including controversial hopefuls who had announced bids and disputes about election laws.

Growing tensions

“I urge the two chambers to overcome the pending disagreement as soon as possible,’’ said Williams. “I also continue to urge all actors and parties in Libya against taking any precipitous action and emphasize that calm and stability must be maintained.’’

There are growing tensions on the ground, and sporadic clashes between rival militias recently erupted in Tripoli. Living conditions have also deteriorated, mainly because of fuel shortages in the oil-rich nation. Tribal leaders have shut down many oil facilities, including the country’s largest field.

The blockade was largely meant to cut off key state revenues to the incumbent Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who has refused to step down. His opponents claim his mandate expired on December 25, when the elections were supposed to take place.

The developments surrounding the non-vote plunged Libya deeper into political turmoil, with two rival administrations _ one led by Dbeibah in Tripoli and another by Prime Minister Fathy Bashagha, appointed by the east-based parliament in February. Both Dbeibah and Bashagha claim power.

The rivalry has sparked fears the oil-rich country could slide back to fighting after tentative steps toward unity last year.