Unity efforts continue after transitional government vote in Libya

Lawmakers in Libya’s divided government have embarked on efforts to unify the legislature after a transitional government was selected in December to lead the North African country to elections.

Members of Libya’s parliament began arriving in the western town of Sabrath on Sunday and plan to meet for a consultative meeting on Monday, parliamentarian Abdel-Moneim Balkour told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).

Between 110 and 120 members of the 188-strong legislature are expected to attend the meeting, Balkour said.

He added that there were three points on the agenda: the unification of the assembly, a vote of confidence in the government following its formation and the finalization of the obligations linked to the adoption of laws.

Delegates from Libya’s rival factions elected Mohammed Menfi as head of a three-member Presidential Council and Abdul-Hamid Mohammed Dbeibeh as interim prime minister in a political dialogue process hosted by the United Nations in Switzerland on February 5.

The new authority will replace the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which was in charge of Tripoli and western regions, and the rival eastern Tobruk administration linked to putschist General Khalifa Haftar.

The government must obtain a vote of confidence during a parliamentary session whose date has not yet been set.

The government based in eastern Libya, allied to Haftar, has made the transfer of power to the new executive authority conditional on the approval of the Tobruk-based parliament.

“We will await the final word from members of the House of Representatives (parliament) to hand over power to any governing body elected by law,” the unrecognized government of Abdullah al-Thani said in a statement last week.

Earlier this week, Menfi traveled to the eastern city of Tobruk and discussed with lawmakers the possibility of holding a parliamentary session with a full quorum, the Libya Observer news portal reported without further details.

Menfi also traveled to eastern Benghazi to promote the country’s unity and spoke with Haftar at his forces’ headquarters in the village of Rajma, 27 kilometers (17 miles) east of Benghazi.

Haftar had welcomed the appointment of the new government, hailing its leaders as “national personalities”. Although Menfi hails from Tobruk, some observers have argued that he is politically allied with Western factions, which could undermine the transitional authorities’ ability to represent Eastern political interests.

Since 2015, Libya has been divided between two governments, one in the east and the other in the west. In April 2019, Haftar launched an offensive to seize the capital, Tripoli. His campaign failed after 14 months of fighting and last October the UN convinced the two sides to sign a ceasefire agreement and engage in political dialogue.

From now on, the new interim government will lead Libya during the transition phase until the elections in December.

The recently appointed United Nations special envoy to Libya, Jan Kubis, has also stepped up efforts for a smooth transition phase in the war-torn country under the new caretaker government.

According to a statement from the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Friday, Kubis continued his introductory calls with Libyan interlocutors, including Khaled al-Mishri, president of the High Council of State, Ahmed Maetig, deputy – Chairman of the Presidency Council, and Fathi Bashaga, the Minister of Interior.

He sought their advice on the next steps to ensure the rapid formation of the interim government and further progress in the economic, social and security fields, in the creation of unified structures and authorities, to advance national reconciliation.” , UNSMIL said.

Kubis also held telephone consultations with international interlocutors, including Turkey, the United Kingdom, Germany and Russia.

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