Libya's PM says conditions for elections not yet ripe: paper

FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister of Libya's unity government Fayez Seraj speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in the naval base of Tripoli, Libya, June 3, 2016. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny/File Photo

ROME (Reuters) - Conditions in Libya are too unstable to hold elections, Prime Minister Fayez Seraj was cited as saying on Wednesday, casting doubts on a French-led push for a vote in December which aims to end years of turmoil and unify the North African country.

French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a conference in May where rival Libyan factions agreed to work with the United Nations for a national election by Dec. 10.

Libya splintered following the 2011 NATO-backed revolt that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, and since 2014 has been divided between competing political and military groups based in Tripoli and the east.

"You can not vote with instability in the streets ... it is necessary that everyone accepts the result of the ballot. We need shared rules," Seraj, who leads the U.N.-brokered transitional government based in Tripoli, said in an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Armed groups have vowed to resume hostilities if talks to be hosted by U.N. Special Envoy Ghassan Salame do not result in a lasting settlement.

Seraj has close relations with Italy.

His main rival, military commander Khalifa Haftar, is aligned with a government based in the east and is seen as closer to France.

Seraj also said factions would need to agree on a constitution before any vote is held.

"We had talked about elections in Paris, but the constitutional document, which is ready but not approved, must first be voted on," Seraj said.

"Unfortunately, the parliament of Tobruk has not yet examined it. Without the constitution, how can one go to a national vote?"

(This version of the story has been refiled to fix garble in paragraph 5 and 9)

(Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)