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Western powers hail first session of new Libyan parliament

The governments of Britain, France, Italy, Germany and the United States on Monday applauded Libya's new parliament for holding its first session amid continuing conflicts between rival militias.

Members of the Libyan Council of Representatives met in the eastern city of Tobruk, as clashes were continuing in the capital city of Tripoli as well as in the eastern city of Benghazi.

"The convening of the council is an important step towards putting Libya's democratic transition back on track and helping restore law and order to the country," the powers said in a joint statement released by the U.S. State Department.

Islamists, who dominated the outgoing General National Congress, lost heavily in the elections to the Council of Representatives. Militias in support of the Islamists launched attacks on Tripoli and Benghazi in mid-July, leaving at least 214 people dead and 981 others wounded so far, sparking fear of the country's return to a full-fledged civil war.

As the rival factions were locking horns over where to convene the new parliament, many countries had evacuated their nationals and diplomats from the North African country.

"The international community stands firmly behind the Libyan people, supports the democratically-elected institutions of Libya, and will continue to partner with Libya until the hopes and aspirations of the Libyan people are achieved," the Western powers said in their statement.

"To this end, we strongly condemn the ongoing violence across the country, including in Tripoli and Benghazi, which jeopardizes the continuation of a peaceful transition and severely affects the life of the Libyan people," they said, calling on all parties to " adopt an immediate ceasefire" and start a peaceful political dialogue.

[Source: Xinhua, Washington, 04Aug14]

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