Libyan PM-designate presents new line-up for unity government to parliament

Libya’s prime minister-designate, Fayez al-Sarraj, on Saturday presented the programme of his new national unity government before the parliament of the internationally recognised government ahead of a confidence vote.

“The members of parliament discussed with the Presidential Council the proposed unity government’s programme as well as the names of ministers,” the Libyan news agency LANA, which is close to the recognised authorities, reported.

It added that the session was adjourned after several hours of “heated debate” and was set to resume on Sunday at 0800 GMT.

The oil-rich North African country has had rival administrations since the summer of 2014 when the internationally recognised government fled Tripoli after a militia alliance including Islamists overran the capital.

That alliance has established its own administration and parliament called the General National Congress.

The United Nations has been pushing both sides to back a unity government.

The Presidential Council, born of an agreement in December under UN auspices between representatives of the rival parliaments, on Monday proposed the formation of a unity government of 18 members.

Before a confidence vote scheduled for Tuesday, the MPs in Tobruk had asked that Sarraj appear before them.

It was not immediately clear if Sarraj would attend Sunday’s session also.

Libya has been torn by strife since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011 following a rebellion supported by Western military intervention.

The chaos that has reigned since has allowed the jihadist Islamic State group to establish a foothold, and IS now controls the port city of Sirte and its surroundings.

LANA reported that 14 members of forces loyal to the recognised government were killed in clashes in second city Benghazi in the east on Saturday.

LANA, quoting medical sources in hospitals in Benghazi and the nearby city of Marj, also said that 34 other members of the forces were wounded in the fighting.

For a year and a half, Benghazi has seen bloody fighting between armed groups including IS and Ansar al-Sharia, which is close to al Qaeda, and forces loyal to the government.

Saturday’s parliamentary session came a day after a US air strike against an IS training camp in Sabratha (70 kilometres, 43 miles west of Tripoli), killed 49 people, probably including a top jihadist.



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