Libyan unity government moves into ministries

Libya’s new UN-backed unity government has secured six ministry buildings in Tripoli and will take administrative control of some of them on Monday, a deputy prime minister said.

TRIPOLI // Libya’s new UN-backed unity government has secured six ministry buildings in Tripoli and will take administrative control of some of them on Monday, a deputy prime minister said.

World powers see the unity government as the best hope for tackling ISIL in Libya, stemming migration across the Mediterranean, and reviving oil production to rescue Libya’s finances, badly hit by political chaos in the country.

The new government’s leaders arrived in Tripoli late last month by ship after opponents had closed down the capital’s airspace. They have been operating out of the naval base where they docked ever since.

Though the new government has the support of some of the biggest armed groups present in Tripoli, the security situation is still highly uncertain and there were clashes and heavy gunfire in a western neighbourhood on Saturday.

The Government of National Accord emerged from a UN-backed deal signed in December, and is aimed at ending the chaos that has seen two sets of rival parliaments and governments operating in Tripoli and the east.

Ahmed Maiteeg, one of the government’s deputy prime ministers, said the GNA would take over work in the ministries of social affairs, youth and sport, and housing on Monday, regardless of whether Libya’s eastern parliament votes to approve the new government.

Such a vote is required by the UN deal. It has been repeatedly delayed, but the parliament is expected to convene on Monday amid intense international pressure for Libyans to rally round the GNA and allow it to start work.

Mr Maiteeg was speaking at a news conference with UN Libya envoy Martin Kobler, who announced that the United Nations would now be basing its operations out of Tripoli rather than Tunis.

“I’m not visiting Tripoli any more, I’m working out of Tripoli,” he said. “The United Nations will be in Tripoli five days a week.”

Most diplomatic staff were evacuated from Tripoli in 2014 amid the heavy fighting that led to the creation of rival governments.

*Reuters

Published: April 18, 2016 04:00 AM

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