Libya Announces Government of National Accord Lineup

Photo Credit: Fadel Senna/Agence France-Presse

On January 19, the Cabinet led by Prime Minister-designate Fayez Sarraj announced the lineup for the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) consisting of 32 different ministers. The United Nations has led negotiations for months in hopes of forming a unity government in hopes of ending the civil war that has left over 5,000 dead and jumpstarting the economy. “Western powers say the international arms embargo will be lifted once Libya’s factions commit to joining together to battle [the Islamic State].” According to Guma El-Gamaty, a London-based member of Libya Dialogue, “99 percent of ordinary Libyans want this agreement to succeed, to end the misery.” A coalition government  is also seen as necessary in battling the Islamic State, which has increased its attacks on Libya’s oil infrastructure and civilians in recent weeks.

U.S. State Department spokesperson John Kirby supports the GNA and described it as a “welcome” and “significant step forward on the path towards Libya’s peace and stability.” The Cabinet, headed by Sarraj, now has 10 days to win the endorsement of the House of Representatives based in Tobruk. Abu Bakr Beira, a prominent Libyan lawyer, insisted the House of Representatives seated in the country’s east will not “cave” to international pressure to endorse the U.N.-sponsored peace deal and its new unity government.

While the announcement of a UN-backed GNA has been lauded by some analysts in the United States and the EU, difficulties may persist in implementation. Two of the cabinet members, Ali Gatrani and Omar al-Aswad, have refused to endorse the government: Gatrani because he rejected a new military and security arrangement proposed by the Cabinet, al-Aswad because his region was not represented sufficiently. The appointment of two rival state ministers, one from the Eastern militia and one from the Western, Tripoli-based government, may prove to be among the many challenges. Mohamed Eljarh, a non-resident fellow of the Atlantic Council, praised the GNA formation but acknowledged that there are “still huge challenges.”

Additional questions have arisen regarding the fate of General Khalifa Haftar and his associated forces; Haftar’s presence has been a persistent obstacle throughout the negotiation process. Analyst Wolfram Lacher said he “expect[s] opposition to government line-up (and to agreement as such) to build up among forces associated with Haftar” due to apparent efforts to sideline the general.