Libya Announces Government of National Accord to Assume Exclusive Authority

Photo Credit: Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images

Despite continued opposition from hardliners on both sides, the Presidential Council-nominated and UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) will officially assume power as the sole authority in Libya. The Presidential Council announced on Saturday that it had a majority of signatures approving the new government from the House of Representatives (HoR), which had delayed recognizing the GNA since February. PM designate Fayez al-Sarraj called on the country’s institutions and the international community to stop dealing with rival groups and urged “all Libyan sovereign and public institutions and the heads of financial bodies to start communicating immediately with the GNA so as to hand over power in a peaceful and orderly manner,” reported The Guardian. It is unclear when financial institutions will recognize the new government exclusively, as the Central Bank recently asserted their loyalty to the HoR.  But the GNA has already taken steps to move from Tunis to Tripoli and forces that had been blocking oil production announced on Sunday that they would recognize the new government and open the fields.

Under the current plan, the Presidential Council will be the highest state body, under which the HoR will be the main legislature and a second chamber formed by the General National Congress (GNC). “Now the government must begin its work and take up its responsibility,” Amhamed Shauib, the deputy head of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, told The Associated Press. “Our priority is now the security in Tripoli where the government will be operating.” The UN security council immediately welcomed the new unity government, as did The United States and EU in a joint statement that described the new body as “the only legitimate government in Libya.”

The UN Security Council also decided to extend the UN Support Mission to Libya (UNSMIL)’s mandate until June 2016 and requests Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to report “within 60 days following consultations with the Libyan authorities” on the UNSC’s recommendations for supporting the Libyan transition process. In a draft resolution, the UNSC writes: “Recognizing in the current circumstances, the need for a short extension of the mandate of UNSMIL, to enable the Mission to continue to assist the Presidency Council in further work in establishing the Government of” National Accord, that should be based in the capital Tripoli, and implementing the Libyan Political Agreement.”

Although the GNA marks significant progress in the peace process, analysts predict the government will continue to struggle. On Sunday, security officials told The Associated Press that three members of a team who had been sent in advance by the GNA to Tripoli in order to prepare security for the government’s move had been detained and accused of plotting a coup–signalling a “new sign of difficulties.””They had been meeting with militias and armed groups in Tripoli behind the Tripoli government’s back and they are now under investigation,” described one official. The EU threatened last week to impose economic sanctions on hardliners who continued to obstruct the peace process, and are still contemplating sending in troops–Italy to provide 5,000 and the UK 1,000, with more troops potentially sent by the French–as the Islamic State continues to grow in Libya’s “military vacuum.”