Libya’s recognized parliament rejects unity govt

Libya's internationally recognized parliament rejected a U.N.-backed unity government

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Libya's internationally recognized parliament voted on Monday to reject a unity government proposed under a U.N.-backed plan to resolve the country's political crisis and armed conflict.

The rejection was widely expected, but signalled that mediators still face a steep challenge in winning support for a government. Of 104 members attending the session in the eastern city of Tobruk, 89 voted against an administration nominated last week, demanding a fresh proposal within 10 days.

Since 2014, Libya has had two competing parliaments and governments, one based in Tripoli and the other in the east. Both are backed by loose alliances of armed groups and former rebels who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Western powers hope a unity government will deliver stability and be able to tackle a growing threat from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.

Eastern lawmakers said the proposed 32-member government had been rejected because it included too many posts. They called on the Tunis-based Presidential Council to put forward a shorter list of ministers.

Lawmaker Mohamed al-Abani told Reuters that the proposed administration also did not represent the interests of the Libyan people but had been formed "according to the demands of militia leaders".

Another lawmaker, Omar Tantoush, said he voted against the government because it did not "respond to current challenges".

"They did not use the correct criteria in choosing ministers and the size of the government, especially now that the economy is collapsing in Libya," he said.

In a second vote, 97 members of the Tobruk parliament backed the U.N.-mediated agreement that sets out a political transition
or Libya and under which the Presidential Council operates. However, they rejected a clause that transfers power over military appointments to the new government.

The armed forces allied to the eastern government are led by Gen Khalifa Haftar, a former Gaddafi ally who has become one of the most divisive figures among Libya's rival groups.

Many in the east see him as the future leader of a national army, but he is despised by forces allied to the government in Tripoli.

Representatives from both sides of Libya's political divide signed the U.N.-backed plan in Morocco in December, but the agreement has faced stiff opposition from many members of the two parliaments and from factions on the ground.

Two of the Presidential Council's nine members also refused to put their names to the proposed government when it was announced after a 48-hour delay last week.

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