The parliament of Libya’s internationally-recognized government, which controls less than half the country, rejected a painstakingly-negotiated United Nations proposal for a unified Libyan government on Monday.
“House of Representatives member Essa al-Areibi says 90 out of 140 members who attended Monday’s session rejected the unity Cabinet and 84 rejected the political agreement,” reports the Associated Press.
According to ABC News, the principal reason for rejecting the agreement was a provision requiring General Khalifa Hifter to step down as military chief for the Tobruk government. Perhaps it makes more sense to keep him around as chief of the unified military, because he has fought on just about every side of the Libyan conflict:
Hifter, who served a stint as army chief under Gadhafi before he defected to the opposition, rose to new prominence after declaring a coup against the Tripoli-based government in 2014 and launching “Operation Dignity,” a military campaign against Islamic militants in Benghaziand elsewhere in the east. He describes all Islamists as terrorists, including the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is represented in Tripoli’s government.
This came despite months of negotiations leading up to the vote, and support from “some members of both rival factions,” by which the AP means the internationally-recognized government headquartered in Tobruk, and the “Libya Dawn” gang of Islamist warlords currently squatting in Tripoli.
Libya Dawn is described as “increasingly jittery” about its security situation by the Libya Herald, with a “noticeable rise in tension” in Tripoli over the weekend. The group made a promise to increase the salaries of militia fighters, and placed new restrictions on the movement of foreigners within the captured capital, although none of the militia officers were willing to discuss the exact reason for the new tensions.
On the eve of the vote for a unity government, the Financial Times reported that Libya has lost over $68 billion in oil revenues since dictator Moammar Qaddafi was toppled, due to battles between government factions and the incursion of ISIS. Now that oil prices are falling, it will become even more difficult for Libya to recover that lost income.
With this in mind, the International Monetary Fund has predicted “Libya will have the world’s fastest-shrinking economy in 2016, beating war-torn Syria as well as Venezuela and Equatorial Guinea.”