Libya’s unity government sacks four ministers

Ministers sacked for absence and refusing to take up their duties in unity government.

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TRIPOLI // Four ministers have been sacked from Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) only three months after it was formed. The official reason given was that they “were absent from their work and refused to take up their duties” at the government headquarters in Tripoli. They had been absent for more than 30 days, said a statement on the government website.

The GNA is backed by the UN but the departure — or non-appearance — of the ministers of justice, economy and industry, finance and national reconciliation is another setback in the efforts to unify Libya, where there is a rival government based in the east of the country at Tobruk. All the sacked ministers were from the east.

They were dismissed on Thursday, exactly three months since prime minister Fayez Al Sarraj, a businessman from Tripoi, sailed into the capital under naval escort. The GNA came about after a UN-backed power-sharing agreement struck in December 2015. In February, the prime minister named his cabinet of 18 ministers and gave several important portfolios to easterners, including Colonel Al-Mahdi Al-Barghathi, a popular military figure who was appointed defence minister.

But the new government has yet to win the vote of confidenc eit needs from Libya’s elected parliament in Tobruk in order to assert authority over the whole country.

Mohamed Eljarh, a Libya expert with the Atlantic Council think tank, said, “I believe that the fact that theses ministers are from the east is significant ... The situation for the GNA in the east is that of rejection, no confidence, no trust.” .

* Agence France Presse