Libya: House of Representatives votes to cancel agreement to bring Turkish troops

MPs said Mr Serraj did not have the authority to sign the agreements alone

Aguila Saleh Issa (C), speaker of Libya's fomerly-Tobruk-based House of Representatives which was elected in 2014, chairs the first session for the assembly at its new headquarters in the second city of Benghazi in the eastern part of the country controlled by strongman Khalifa Haftar, on April 13, 2019.  / AFP / Abdullah DOMA
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Libya’s House of Representatives has voted unanimously to cancel an agreement between Prime Minister Fayez Serraj and the Turkish government that would see Turkish troops sent to the country.

Prime Minister of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez Sarraj signed two memoranda of understanding with Turkey last week; one which agreed maritime borders and another which agreed Turkey would send troops to Libya in support of the government in Tripoli.

In an emergency session held Saturday, the parliament - one of three main elements wrestling for power, the others being Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army and the GNA based in Tripoli -    also voted to refer all those party to the agreement on the Libyan side to prosecutors on charges of high treason.

Parliamentarians from the House of Representatives, led by speaker Aguila Saleh, said the memorandum of understanding was illegal, as any deal between Libya and another state requires unanimous approval from the nine-member presidential council and parliament’s assent. They also called for the international community to reject the agreements.

Mr Saleh called the agreement a “flagrant violation of international law that’s devoid of any legal basis”.

But, Libya's fractured political system means the Parliamentary vote in Tobruk - where the House of Representatives is based- is unlikely to have any real effect at stopping troop deployment.

Despite widespread criticism of the plan, Turkey's parliament voted 325 to 184 on Thursday to give President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a year to decide on how to militarily support the internationally-recognised government of Government of National Accord.

The beleaguered Tripoli government, headed by Fayez Al Serraj, has been under sustained attack since April by Field Marshal Haftar’s forces. The field marshal who holds territory in Libya’s east, has stated that he intends to free Tripoli from militant groups defending the capital.

In response to Turkish parliamentary approval for troop deployment, Field Marshal Haftar on Saturday called for all Libyans to take up arms.

"We accept the challenge and declare jihad and a call to arms," said Field Marshal Haftar in a televised address on Friday.

He urged "all Libyans" to bear arms, "men and women, soldiers and civilians, to defend our land and our honour".

He said it was no longer a question of liberating Tripoli from the militias, but of "facing a coloniser", accusing Ankara of wanting to "regain control of Libya", a former province of the Ottoman Empire.

African Union chief Moussa Faki Mahamat has also expressed grave concern over potential "interference" in Libya.

Mr Faki said in a statement late Friday he was "deeply concerned at the deterioration of the situation in Libya and the continuing suffering of the Libyan people."