News   /   North Africa

Libyan government hands power to unity team

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The photo shows former Libyan Prime Minister Faiz al-Sarraj (C), new Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dabaiba (R), and the head of the Presidential Council, Mohammed Menfi (L), in the Libyan capital of Tripoli on March 16, 2021. (Photo via social media)

Libya's internationally-recognized government has officially handed over power to a new interim executive that is expected to unify the war-torn African country after decade-long violence and division.

Fayez al-Sarraj, who had been prime minister since 2014, resigned from his post in a ceremony in the capital, Tripoli, on Tuesday, one day after new interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and a three-member presidency council took the oath of office in the Libyan parliament.

Dbeibah, selected through a United Nations (UN)-facilitated process early last month, was sworn in to lead the new Government of National Unity (GNU) until elections are held on December 24.

The new administration replaces both the Tripoli-based government and a parallel administration headquartered in the east, which is protected by rebel forces under the command of a renegade general named Khalifa Haftar.

During the ceremony on Tuesday, Sarraj gave a brief speech and pointed to the "endless difficulties" his government had faced over the past several years, including the war on terrorism, the failed 2019 offensive by Haftar's rebels to seize the capital, and the interference of foreign forces.

He said his administration had never won the support of the eastern-based administration.

Dbeibah, for his part, expressed the GNU's determination to continue the reforms Sarraj had started.

Libya's parliament granted a vote of confidence to Dbeibeh's new unity government last week.

Dbeibah has called for the departure of some 20,000 foreign militants present in the country, adding that he would coordinate with the militants' countries of origin to arrange for their withdrawal.

On Sunday, the UN Security Council welcomed the formation of the national unity government in Libya and called for an immediate withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from the conflict-ridden African country.

Libya, which sits atop the largest oil reserves in Africa, has been grappling with violence since the overthrow of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi in an uprising and military intervention by NATO in 2011.

The country descended into chaos last year after the rebels under the command of Haftar moved toward Tripoli to seize the city. They were later repelled by government forces, however.

The conflict has escalated into a regional proxy war fueled by foreign powers pouring weapons and mercenaries into the country, with the Tripoli government receiving major backing from Turkey, and the rebels from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan.

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