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Published: Friday January 31, 2014 MYT 1:31:57 AM
Updated: Friday January 31, 2014 MYT 1:33:08 AM

Libya congress sets February 20 for constitution assembly vote

Nouri Abusahmain (C), the new head of Libya's General National Congress (GNC), attends a signing ceremony for the law on elections of the constituent body for the drafting of a new constitution, in Al Bayda July 20, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

Nouri Abusahmain (C), the new head of Libya's General National Congress (GNC), attends a signing ceremony for the law on elections of the constituent body for the drafting of a new constitution, in Al Bayda July 20, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya will elect an assembly on February 20 to draft a constitution intended to advance a transition to democracy more than two years after a NATO-backed uprising toppled Muammar Gaddafi, the head of the interim parliament said on Thursday.

"We want all Libyan people and groups to reconcile and support these elections," Nouri Abusahmain, president of the General National Congress (GNC), said after announcing the date.

Libya is mired in political chaos with the GNC deadlocked between Islamists and the nationalist National Forces Alliance party, and its nascent army struggling to assert itself against unruly former rebels, tribal groups and Islamist militants.

Once the 60-member constitutional assembly is elected it will have 120 days to draft a new charter, which would then be submitted to a popular referendum. If the document is approved, an election for a proper parliament would be held in late 2014.

The GNC's transitional term was to have expired on February 7, but its members extended this to provide continuity, promising to stay on only if progress on the constitution is being made.

(Reporting by Ghaith Shennib; writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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