Libya's Islamist-backed Tripoli government moves to block UN-backed rivals

Libya's Islamist-backed Tripoli government moves to block UN-backed rivals
2 min read
25 March, 2016
Libya's Islamist-backed militia in Tripoli has declared a state of emergency after members of the rival United Nations-backed unity government reportedly arrived in the city.
The west has pinned hope for resolving Libya's chaos on the unity government [AFP]

Libya's Islamist-backed government in the capital, Tripoli, has declared a state of emergency after reports that four members of the rival United Nations' unity government have arrived.

In a statement, the so-called National Salvation government in Tripoli said on Thursday that it tasked the Defense Ministry, militias and security apparatus to "increase security patrols and checkpoints."

The Tripoli government — one of Libya's three governments and which is backed by militias — has warned before of the United Nations' attempts to install a government in the capital.

The west has pinned hope for resolving Libya's chaos and blocking the Islamic State group's growth there on the unity government, which is brokered by the United Nations and headed by Fayez Serraj, who is yet to enter the capital later this month.

Under the agreement, Libya's rival administrations - one supported by the internationally recognised parliament in the east and the other backed by an Islamist-backed militia in Tripoli - are supposed to cede power to a new Government of National Accord (GNA) under prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj.

But so far the only thing the two sides seem able to agree on is their mutual disdain for the new authority.

"The birth of this government in this way has done nothing but worsen the political crisis... create new conflicts and further destabilise" the country, said Mohamed Eljarh, a Libya analyst at the Washington-based Atlantic Council.

The GNA has not been formally endorsed by either parliament but it announced earlier this month it was taking office on the basis of a petition signed by a narrow majority of Libya's elected lawmakers.

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

But neither of Libya's rival administrations has so far shown any willingness to cooperate.

"Unless the international community can give the GNA control over Libyan finances, a powerful national army, and somehow make it legitimate in the eyes of the Libyan people, the GNA is poised to become the weakest of Libya's three competing national authorities," said Michael Nayebi-Oskoui, a US-based Middle East and North Africa analyst.