The UN envoy to Libya has urged a rapid, complete handover of power to a unity government that arrived in Tripoli a week ago, warning that a fragile peace in the city may not hold if the new government is unable to deliver, Reuters said.
Martin Kobler also called on Libya’s internationally recognized eastern parliament on Wednesday, April 6 to hold a long-sought vote on whether to approve the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), telling Reuters in an interview that the chamber risked being sidelined if it failed to do so.
Shortly after he spoke the prime minister of Tripoli’s self-declared National Salvation government issued a statement calling on his ministers to stay in place. That contradicted a statement backed by some ministers on Tuesday saying the National Salvation government was stepping down.
The GNA emerged from a UN-mediated deal signed in December and aimed at resolving the political chaos that engulfed Libya after the 2011 overthrow of autocrat Muammar Gaddafi.
From 2014 the country had two pairs of rival parliaments and governments in Tripoli and the east, both backed by loose coalitions of armed brigades.
Western powers are backing the GNA as the best chance for uniting armed factions against Islamic State in Libya, stemming the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean, and rescuing the economy by reviving oil production.
Kobler, who visited Tripoli on Tuesday, said a handover of power at the foreign ministry was yet to be replicated in other ministries.
“We know of ministers who are willing to hand over,” he said. “But the ministers have to change, they have to peacefully hand over their power and give the new administration to the Government of National Accord.”
A source close to National Salvation government head Khalifa Ghwell said his ministers were divided over whether to hand over power. He said Ghwell was still in Tripoli but no longer working out of his old office, which has been secured by an armed brigade loyal to the GNA.
Kobler said the GNA needed to be able to quickly improve economic conditions and failing health services.
“It can change tomorrow, but now it’s quiet. If the government doesn’t deliver, it will not stay quiet.”
The GNA’s leadership, or Presidential Council, has been operating out of a naval base in Tripoli, where Kobler said it was being guarded by “regular forces”.
He said previously hostile militias had been persuaded to protect or tolerate the Council because both the militias and people in Tripoli wanted a “way out” from conflict and increasing economic hardship.