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Launch of Libya Unity Government Again Hits Snag

  • Edward Yeranian

FILE - Fayez al-Saraj, flanked by members of the Presidential Council, speaks during a news conference at the Mitiga Naval Base in Tripoli, Libya, March, 30, 2016.

FILE - Fayez al-Saraj, flanked by members of the Presidential Council, speaks during a news conference at the Mitiga Naval Base in Tripoli, Libya, March, 30, 2016.

Arab media are reporting Libya's unrecognized government in Tripoli has formally stepped down in favor of the new "unity" government of Prime Minister-designate Fayez al-Saraj.

But Libyan TV reports the country's internationally recognized parliament, the House of Representatives, based in Tobruk, once again postponed its approval of the country's U.N.-mediated national unity government, despite moves by the rival government and parliament in Tripoli to cede power to it.

The television channel announced the new government's council of state met in Tripoli and elected Abdel Rahman Swehli to be its head. It also reported Libya's central bank has been instructed to stop paying institutions that do not take orders from the new administration.

A key member of the parliament in Tobruk, Abu Bakr Baeira, told Arab media the new council of state has not been legally approved and warned Prime Minister-designate Saraj's new unity government must be approved by parliament in order to be lawful.

Al Arabiya TV reported the Tobruk parliament was unable to obtain a quorum to vote on Saraj's Cabinet. It said it was the ninth bid to hold a session to approve the new government.

This image released by the media office of the unity government shows Fayez al-Saraj, right, upon his arrival in Tripoli, Libya, March 30, 2016.

This image released by the media office of the unity government shows Fayez al-Saraj, right, upon his arrival in Tripoli, Libya, March 30, 2016.


Parliament Speaker Aguileh Salah has told Arab media that his body “agrees to the new government, but not to all the ministers that have been proposed to be a part of it.”

The unrecognized government in Tripoli and the General National Congress, a rival Tripoli-based parliament, officially ceded power to the new government this week.

Sadek Institute Director Anas El Gomati told VOA there are major power centers in Libya that do not accept the unity government. He said the head of parliament in Tobruk insists Army Commander Khalifa Hafter be part of the government.

"Khalifa Hafter is unwilling to cede his position as the chief of the army in the HoR (House of Representatives) government and any new government of national accord will end up seeing him resign his post. Now, that is what the HoR is holding this government of national accord at ransom to. They want the Libyan political agreement changed (and adapted) so that they can keep Khalifa Hafter in his current position and continue the status quo in the east," Gomati said.

U.N. Libya envoy Martin Kobler stated in a tweet Wednesday he “welcomes the convening of (the country's new) state council in Tripoli,” calling it “an important step.”

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