Libya's UN-backed unity administration gains more supporters

Libya’s UN-backed unity administration secures support of guards who preserve country's key oil terminals

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

A handout picture released on April 1, 2016, on the official Facebook media page of Fayez al Sarraj, prime minister of the UN-backed unity administration, show him being greeted by people on a street in Tripoli.

UN-backed unity administration in Libya has obtained the support of guards who secure Libya 's key oil reserves on Friday.

The country's warring sides are under deep international pressure to hand over power to the unity administration’s prime minister-designate Fayez al Sarraj who arrived in the capital on Wednesday.

The main government is situated in Tripoli, the capital of Libya, with another rival administration in the eastern city of Tobruk, while the proposed third administration backed by the UN has been rejected by both the Tripoli government and the eastern Tobruk administration.

On Friday, an official from a unit of guards said it had pledged loyalty to Sarraj's administration.

"All the oil terminals under our jurisdiction have been placed under the authority of the unity government," said the official who declined to be named.

Supporters of Fayez al-Sarraj march holding banners. (AFP)


On Thursday, 10 western cities also gathered around Sarraj's administration and urged Libyans to back it, in a major blow to the unrecognised Tripoli authorities who are rejecting to transfer power.

The announcement released by Sabratha mayor Hussein al Dawadi via the official Facebook page of the Sabratha municipality said, "The situation of the country is sad. Life is very expensive, there is no cash, and so we saw that it's time to support this government in order to start solving all of these issues."

Mattia Toaldo, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the unity leaders and their supporters "have managed to convince a great part of what used to be Libya Dawn to join the GNA."

The unity administration is labelled by the UN as the "Government of National Accord."

"Difficult times lie ahead. The immediate challenge is to end the cash crisis. For the moment though the GNA seems to have proved that it's the only realistic game in town," Toaldo said.

Fayez al-Sarraj, prime minister of the UN-backed unity administration (C) attends a news conference in Tripoli, Libya, March 30, 2016. (Reuters)

UN to lift some Libya sanctions if unity GOVT takes power

The UN Security Council said on Thursday it may consider changes to sanctions on Libya’s sovereign wealth fund once a unity administration it backs confirms it has taken control over the current ruling government, along with the National Oil Corporation and central bank.

The 15-member council froze the assets of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) in 2011 after former leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in a rebel uprising. The country has been in a state of chaos ever since.

Libya’s UN Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi asked the council to exempt sanctions on the investment authority to end billion-dollar losses.

The LIA’s total assets were valued at around $67 billion at the end of 2012.

The UN Security Council renewed sanctions on Libya on Thursday and asked the UN-backed unity administration to confirm "as soon as it exercises sole and effective oversight" over the LIA, National Oil Corporation and the Central Bank of Libya.

The UN Security Council also expressed its determination to support the unity administration, referring to it as a "government."

The UN resolution affirmed to Dabbashi that it is ready to consider changes to the asset freeze at the request of the unity administration.

As result of a security vacuum created by the Tobruk administration competing with the Tripoli government in Libya’s capital, DAESH terrorists have gained a foothold in the North African state.

Libya Dawn fighters fire an artillery cannon at DAESH terrorists near Sirte March 19, 2015. (Reuters Archive)

Members of Libya’s self-proclaimed Presidential Council, backed by the UN, illegally entered Tripoli on Wednesday by boat in an attempt to form their own government after being told by the currently existing government that they were not allowed to enter by plane or other means and security measures had been reinforced.

Shortly after, armed men stormed the Tripoli headquarters of satellite TV station Al Nabaa on the same night, cut its transmissions and forced out its staff, according to two journalists from the channel, which is close to the authorities in control of the Libyan capital.

"A group of armed men, some of them in fatigues and some in civilian clothing, stormed our offices and gathered the employees in one room telling them they have nothing more to do here," one of the journalists said.

TRTWorld and agencies