Libyan Official Resigns; Haftar Dismisses Unity Talks

Photo Credit: Al Hadass Online

Moussa al-Kuni, the Deputy Head of the UN-backed government’s Presidential Council, announced his resignation from his post on January 2, 2017, citing failure to solve the country’s political and economic crises as the key reason. Al-Kuni told a press conference that the Government of National Accord (GNA) had to “…take responsibility for everything that has happened in the past year: dramas, violence, murder, rape, invasion, the squandering of public funds.” His tweets following the conference contained admissions that the Presidential Council is ruling Libya “only in appearance,” and that “everyone is ruling Libya.”

The resignation comes amid renewed tensions as fighting in the country’s central region has flared. Recently, General Khalifa Haftar, who exercises power over much of Libya’s east, declared he has no plans to resume talks with his rival, Prime Minister Fayez Seraj, who heads the internationally recognized GNA.

The U.S. State Department commented in its January 4, 2017 press briefing that the United States “[urges] all parties to exercise…restraint” and “encourages all parties to support the Government of National Accord…as it works to address the country’s critical challenges.” In response to comments by Haftar that suggested he was seeking Russian arms, the State Department reiterated that this would be a breach of the internationally enforced arms embargo.

Meanwhile, analyst Karim Mezran writes, “The most secure and fast way to reach [stability in Libya] is through a more coherent and engaged U.S. approach that uses the influence of the president to co-opt Libyan factions into a real inclusive peace negotiation…” Mezran suggests that the new administration introduce a Special Presidential Envoy to Libya in order to better coordinate peace efforts.