Libyan unity government awaits approval on Tuesday

Libyan unity government awaits approval on Tuesday
3 min read
23 February, 2016
Libya's internationally recognised parliament is expected to hold a vote of confidence Tuesday on a UN-backed national unity government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj.
Fayez al-Sarraj has proposed an 18-member unity government [AFP]

Libya's internationally recognised parliament is expected to hold a vote of confidence Tuesday on a UN-backed national unity government, a lawmaker said.

Deputy Aisha al-Aquri said the legislature wrapped up debate Monday on the line-up proposed by the Presidential Council and would meet again on Tuesday "to approve the national unity government".

The head of the Presidential Council Fayez al-Sarraj, who is to head the unity government, said the cabinet should assume its responsibilities as soon as it receives parliamentary approval.

Speaking during the parliamentary debate on Monday, Sarraj said that the new government could start its work from anywhere in the country if it was not able to commence its work from the capital Tripoli which is under the control of a rival parliament.

Oil-rich Libya has had rival administrations since the summer of 2014 when the 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, while the internationally recognised legislature is based in the eastern city of Tobruk.

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, proposed last week the formation of a unity government of 18 members.

UN envoy Martin Kobler travelled Sunday to Tobruk saying he wanted to "help" with the vote of confidence but "not to interfere".

Parliament has been meeting since Saturday to discuss the line-up submitted by prime minister designate Fayez al-Sarraj.

UN envoy Martin Kobler travelled Sunday to Tobruk saying he wanted to "help" with the vote of confidence but "not to interfere".

Meanwile, Libyan troops loyal to the Tobruk government have made major advances against Islamist extremists, clearing a strategic port and a main hospital in the eastern city of Benghazi, the army spokesman said Monday.

Khalifa al-Obeidi said that the port of Mraissa had served as the largest "supply line for the terrorists" but is now held by forces led by General Khalifa Haftar.

He said soldiers were supported by fighters defending their own neighborhoods and that at least 30 rival militants were killed in the fighting.

Another military official said the breakthrough came after the troops received weapons and ammunition from Egypt, a strong supporter of Haftar over the past two years.

Egyptian warplanes struck IS positions in the eastern city of Darna last year after the extremists beheaded several captured Egyptian Christians.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.

Benghazi is Libya's second largest city and was the birthplace of the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed Muammar Gaddafi.

It has endured more than two years of heavy battles between Haftar's forces and a coalition of militias, including Islamic State group (IS) loyalists.

The chaos that has reigned since has allowed the IS militants to establish a foothold in the country where they now control the coastal city of Sirte and its surroundings.

Agencies contributed to this report