Libya unity government heading for the rocks before it takes off

Libya’s authorities that are backed by an internationally recognised parliament said Friday they oppose a UN-backed unity government from starting work inside the country.

In the second such blow this week for the unity administration, the government which holds sway mostly in eastern Libya warned against “measures by certain international parties that want to impose this government of national unity”.

Such steps would “further complicate” Libya’s political crisis and “deepen divisions” in the country, it said on its Facebook page.

The authorities based in eastern Libya cautioned “all Libyan institutions at home and abroad from dealing with” the unity government “before it has won a vote of confidence in parliament”.

On Tuesday, Libya’s unrecognised authorities in control of Tripoli also warned that the new government would not be welcome in the capital.

“A government that has been imposed from abroad without the consensus of Libyans… has no place amongst us,” the so-called Tripoli government said in a statement.

Libya has had two rival administrations since mid-2014 when the recognised government was forced from Tripoli to the far east after a militia alliance including Islamists overran the capital.

The United Nations is pushing Libya’s rival politicians to accept the unity government, created under a power-sharing deal sealed by the rival parties in December.

It has not been formally endorsed by lawmakers from either side but last Saturday the government announced it was taking office on the basis of a petition signed by Libya’s elected lawmakers.

The United States and its European allies have called on the new unity government to swiftly move to Tripoli and take up power, threatening sanctions against those who undermine the political process.

In a show of solidarity, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault met in Tunis on Friday with the unity government’s prime minister-designate, Fayez al-Sarraj.

“I wanted to give him the backing of France,” Ayrault said after their meeting. “It’s a very difficult mission, very risky.”

Tunisia is to host a meeting of foreign ministers of Libya’s neighbours on Monday and Tuesday to press for a political settlement, the country’s Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui said.

Libya has descended into chaos since the 2011 ouster of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, allowing extremist organisations including the Islamic State jihadist group to gain ground.

 

– AFP

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