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Libyan parliament pulls plug on unity government

August 23, 2016

Libya's internationally recognized parliament has voted no confidence in the fragile UN-backed unity government. The political chaos that has beset Libya since the 2011 overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi looks set to continue.

Libyen Tripolis Fayez Serraj Einheitsregierung
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/GNA Media

The House of Representatives, Libya's recognized legislature based in the country's east near the Egyptian border, refused on Monday to support the Government of National Accord (GNA), a body that resulted from UN talks with Libyan officials to establish a government for the country.

A rival government in the east has refused to cede power until the House of Representatives passes a vote of confidence and this has been stymied by procedural issues in recent months. Monday's vote was "the first time quorum has been reached in five months," parliament spokesman Adam Boussakhra said.

"But the majority of lawmakers present at the parliament session voted no confidence in the government," Boussakhra added.

Parliament speaker Aguila Saleh as well as 101 MPs attended Monday's vote, the assembly said on its website, with 61 rejecting the GNA, 39 abstaining and a lone MP voting confidence in the government in the 198-member legislature.

It was unclear whether following the vote, the GNA in its present form would continue to seek endorsement from the parliament.

Delaying the inevitable?

After the no confidence vote, MPs gave the prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj (pictured above) a 10-day deadline to come up with a new unity government.

The unity government came about as a result of a UN-brokered power-sharing deal last December.

Support for the GNA is widely seen as a precondition of restoring some stability in the beleaguered country and for effectively taking on the Libyan branch of the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) militant group.

Pro-GNA fighters, backed by US airstrikes, have reportedly recaptured ground from jihadis holed up in the center of Sirte in recent days. The jihadi fighters took control of Sirte - Gadhafi's hometown - in June 2015, which raised fears they would use the city to launch attacks across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.

The eastern factions support forces led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who has been waging a military campaign against IS in Benghazi and parts of the east. They believe the GNA is dependent on Islamist-leaning armed groups.

While political squabbling continues in Tripoli and eastern Libya, over 2.4 million people in the country are in need of humanitarian assistance, the UN said on Friday.

jbh/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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