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Libya: Authorities in Capital Cede Power to UN-Backed Unity Government

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The authorities in Libya’s capital Tripoli reportedly announced Tuesday that they were relinquishing power to the United Nations-backed unity government.

“We inform you that we are ceasing the activities entrusted to us as a legislative power, presidency, parliamentarians and ministers,” said a statement obtained by Agence France-Presse (AFP) and made public on the website of the justice ministry of the unrecognized authorities in Tripoli.

The statement comes nearly a week after Fayez al-Sarraj, who has been designated to serve as the country’s prime minister, arrived in Tripoli to take control of the unity government’s body.

AFP reports that the recently issued statement added that “the decision to step aside was taken to prevent further divisions and bloodshed.”

Last Thursday, Reuters reported that the unity government met at a heavily guarded naval base in Tripoli, adding that a senior military official was working on securing other government institutions.

“The government’s leaders arrived at the base by ship from neighboring Tunisia on Wednesday in a high-risk bid to take power, after opponents prevented them from flying in by closing down Tripoli’s airspace,” noted Reuters.

“Western powers hope the new government will request and channel foreign support to confront the Islamic State [ISIS/ISIL] militant group, deal with migrant flows from Libya towards Europe, and restore oil production to shore up its economy,” it added.

The UN has recognized the unity government as the sole legitimate ruling body and has urged for a transfer of power.

However, both the self-declared National Salvation government in Tripoli and its rival in the east have been competing for power.

“On Thursday, members of the unity government’s seven-member Presidential Council held meetings at the naval base with political supporters, local council leaders, businessmen and central bank governor Sadiq al-Kabir,” reported Reuters.

The Libyan military base is “completely secured,” reportedly said Abdulrahman Taweel, a brigadier general in charge of protecting the new government.

“We are working to secure all other state institutions,” he told Reuters, without elaborating further. “The Council is here to stay and to continue their work here in Tripoli. They will not leave except for international meetings and will return.”

Libya has been engulfed in chaos and has become a breeding ground for jihadist groups, namely the Islamic State, since the fall, backed by the West, of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Reuters noted:

The Presidential Council and the Government of National Accord (GNA) emerged from a deal mediated by the United Nations and signed in December to overcome an impasse that saw rival governments in Tripoli and Bayda competing for power…

Libyan Grand Mufti Sadiq Al-Gharyani, an influential figure among some of Tripoli’s armed groups, called for the U.N.-brokered deal to be revised and for the GNA to leave the country “before we open the door of jihad on them.”


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