Libya parliament rejects UN-backed unity government

Tobruk-based parliament votes against unity government with rivals in Tripoli, and demands cabinet reshuffle.

News conference after the signing of the "Libyan Political Agreement" in Suherirat, Morocco
Representatives of Tripoli-based and Tobruk-based governments in a news conference after signing the agreement, December 2015 [Reuters]

Libya’s internationally recognised parliament based in Tobruk has voted against the UN-backed unity government with rival authorities based in Tripoli, Libyan news agencies reported.

House of Representatives member Abu Bakr Beira said 89 out of 104 members who attended Monday’s session rejected the cabinet formed by the UN-sponsored unity Presidential Council (PC).

He said the council would be dissolved if it failed to meet a 10-day deadline to form a new, smaller cabinet. 

The unity government, which was announced on January 19, aimed to bridge a political divide that has undermined the fight against armed groups.

Libya currently has two rival administrations and parliaments: the internationally recognised authorities based in Tobruk and a rebel-backed authority holding power in the capital, Tripoli.

The Tobruk parliament also approved the Skhirat agreement as a political deal provided that article number 8 – related to sovereign posts in the government, including military occupations – is deleted, giving the presidential council ten days to reshuffle the cabinet or replace the PC with another.

The Skhirat agreement was signed on December 17, 2015 in Skhirat, Morocco. The agreement was meant to lead to the establishment of a single Government of National Accord (GNA) and national institutions that would ensure broad representation.

The agreement calls for a 17-member cabinet, headed by businessman Fayez el-Sarraj as prime minister, based in the Libyan capital.

Under the agreement, a nine-member PC was named and given responsibility for selecting the national unity government.

However, the Tobruk parliament called for the boycotting of two PC members, Ali al-Gotrani and Omar al-Aswad. It suggested that they resume their positions once article 8 is deleted.

Al-Gotrani and al-Aswad suspended their membership from the PC of the UN-imposed government over demands and selection of cabinet members.

Many members of Libya’s competing parliaments did not back the agreement, and critics say that the plan does not evenly represent all the country’s groups and factions.

Some critics cite reports that the UN representative who helped broker the agreement, Bernardino Leon, was secretly negotiating a high-paying job with the United Arab Emirates, which backs the Tobruk parliament.

Since the 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has slid into chaos. 

Source: Al Jazeera