TRIPOLI, Libya — Powerful militias that have demanded Libya’s interim Parliament resign or face detention said Wednesday that it now has 72 hours to resolve its deadlock, while the United Nations said legislators should call for new elections as soon as possible.
The demands issued Tuesday by Al Qaaqaa and Al Sawaaq militias, which the country’s top leaders described as an attempted coup, have brought the restive North African country’s long-running political showdown to a head. Parliament is split between Islamist and non-Islamist blocs. Its mandate was to have expired this month, but the Islamists led a motion to extend it by another year.
Under street protesters’ pressure, Parliament voted to hold early elections in the spring. But many consider the body a failed institution and are angered at the prospect of even this shorter extension, especially one announced in what they consider vague and opaque statements.
The two militias at first said that Parliament had until 9 p.m. Tuesday to hand over power or be arrested as ‘‘usurpers,’’ but later said they had extended their deadline by 72 hours to Friday in a deal agreed with UN special representative Tarek Mitri, according to a statement posted on Al Qaaqaa’s official Facebook page.
The UN mission to Libya subsequently denied any such deadline had been agreed upon, saying that media reports about it were ‘‘baseless.’’
The militia said the second ultimatum requires all parties to reach a ‘‘final and radical solution’’ to the crisis, but did not spell out any consequences if they failed to do so.
Mitri says he met with the commanders of the two militias and appealed to them to ‘‘give a chance to political dialogue about holding general elections at the earliest possible’’ opportunity.
He warned that the use of force ‘‘threatens the stability of Libya and the political process.’’