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War dominates Africa summit as leaders vow Libya support

Addis Ababa (AFP) - African Union leaders vowed on Monday to push peace efforts in Libya, a sign of the bloc's desire to play a bigger role in resolving the continent's conflicts.

As the 55-member group wrapped up a two-day summit, Smail Chergui, the AU's Peace and Security Council chief, offered assistance to revive Libya's faltering UN-led peace process.

"It's (the) UN itself which needs us now," Chergui said.

"It's time to bring this situation to an end... the two organisations should work hand in hand for that goal," he added.

Libya has been torn by fighting between rival factions since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who took over as AU chair on Sunday, has said Libya is one of two conflicts he wants to focus on during his tenure.

The other is South Sudan, where a civil war that began in 2013 has left hundreds of thousands dead -- but talks on the sidelines of the AU summit ended in deadlock.

- Divisions and disagreements -

The AU leadership has complained about being overlooked in Libya-related peacemaking efforts, which have been led primarily by the UN and heavily involved European nations.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Saturday said he understood the AU's "frustration" at having "been put aside" when it comes to Libya.

The North African state remains in chaos, mostly split between strongman Khalifa Haftar, who controls eastern Libya, and the UN-recognised government in Tripoli.

Talks between Libya's warring factions ended on Saturday with no deal on a ceasefire. The UN has proposed a second round of negotiations for February 18.

Chergui said the AU could support peace if a cessation of hostilities agreement is finally signed, declaring the AU wanted to be part of an observer mission to ensure any deal is respected.

"This is an African problem, and we have a certain sense that maybe others do not have," Chergui said.

Despite AU optimism, analysts are sceptical.

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