Leader of UN-recognized Libya government announces resignation

Tripoli, Sep 16 (efe-epa).- The leader of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) recognized by the United Nations and headquartered in Tripoli, Fayez al-Serraj, on Wednesday announced that he intends to resign and transfer his duties to a successor before the end of October.

In a pre-recorded statement broadcast on state-run television, Al-Serraj urged the Consultative Committee to meet and elect a new Presidential Council that will assume the duties he has carried out since it was formed in March 2016 after the failure of the peace process pushed by the UN in the Moroccan city of Skhirat.

Conjecture regarding Al-Serraj’s possible resignation has been circulating in recent days in Libya, where a new effort is under way by the European Union and the UN to regain the leadership of peace negotiations that for months have been controlled by Russia and Turkey, the latter being the main backer of the GNA.

Moscow backs the aspiration of regional strongman Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the head of the unrecognized Libyan regime – although it is also supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates – in the eastern part of the country.

In this effort, the UN Security Council on Tuesday renewed the mandate of its international mission for Libya (UNSMIL) and announced that in the coming days it will fill the vacancy left in March by the resignation of its latest special envoy, Ghassam Salame.

Both Brussels and the international body also have been trying for weeks to elevate the political fortunes of Agilah Saleh, the head of the Libyan Parliament elected in 2014 that moved to the eastern city of Tobruk when it was not recognized by the government that then existed in Tripoli and became alienated due to its different opinion about the peace process launched by the UN.

Al-Serraj’s resignation announcement comes amid a series of popular protests over shortages in Tripoli that have revealed the power struggle going on within the heart of the GNA and in particular within the inner circle surrounding the Council president and Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga.

Al-Serraj fired Bashaga and opened an investigation into his activities at the beginning of the month because of the violent suppression of protests by one of the militias linked to the powerful Interior Ministry.

The minister – who is in charge of security in the capital – was released by authorities just three days later and reinstated in his post.

The protests over the daily power outages, the scarcity of cooking gas, running water and fuel have also been occurring in the other main cities in eastern Libya, and they, too, have been violently suppressed by militias linked to the authorities there.

Two weeks ago, Al-Serraj and Saleh announced a ceasefire agreement that, nevertheless, has not been accepted by forces on the ground, which continue to reinforce and move troops along the axis formed by the Al-Khufrah oasis and the port of Sirte, the new battle front in a war that became more intense 14 months ago with the involvement of mercenaries – mainly Syrians and Africans – recruited by Turkey and Russia.

Libya is a failed state, the victim of chaos and civil war since in 2011 NATO contributed militarily to the victory of assorted rebel groups that toppled the dictatorial regime of Muammar Gaddafi, killing him in the process.

Although the North African, largely desert, nation is an OPEC member, its oil fields have been closed on Haftar’s orders since January.

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