Tripoli leadership takes action against unity government 'infiltration'

Tripoli leadership takes action against unity government 'infiltration'
The militia-backed Tripoli government has said it will press charges against servicemen who recently allowed the head of a UN-backed unity government into the Libyan capital.
3 min read
31 March, 2016
The new government's arrival had been hailed by the international community [Getty]
Libya's unrecognised authorities in control of Tripoli have said they will take legal action against the naval officers who let the head of a UN-backed unity government Fayez al-Sarraj into the capital.

Members of Libya's UN-backed Government of National Accord arrived in Tripoli on Wednesday, defying threats by rival factions that it was not welcome in the capital.

"We are in the process of pressing charges against the officers at Abu Sitta Naval Base, who have let Sarraj into Tripoli," said Deputy Chairman of the Tripoli-based General National Congress [GNC], Awad Abdel Sadeq.

"The GNC will take legal measures against what it considers an illegal infiltration by Sarraj and his delegation," Abdel Sadeq told The New Arab.

In a televised address, the head of the militia-backed GNC, Khalifa Ghweil, said Sarraj's government was "illegal", asking him to leave the capital or to "hand himself in".

Sarraj, who was named prime minister-designate in December under a UN-brokered power-sharing deal, arrived at a naval base in Tripoli, following growing international calls for Libya's rival political camps to unite behind his administration.

      Sarraj entered Tripoli on Wednesday [Getty]
"Those who entered illegally and secretly must surrender or turn back," Ghweil said. "We won't leave Tripoli as long as we are not sure of the fate of our homeland."

Gunmen stormed the headquarters of a Libyan television station late on Wednesday, apparently in support of the new government, but the capital appeared calm early on Thursday.

Banks and shops were open, police were posted on the streets and flights had resumed at Metiga airport after being suspended on Wednesday "for security reasons".

Sources within the Libyan army controlled by the Tripoli authorities have told The New Arab that a state of emergency had been declared since the arrival of Sarraj.

The source also said that troops had been deployed onto the streets of Tripoli to maintain order.

The new government's arrival had been hailed by the international community as a crucial step in restoring order to Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi.

Formed under a power-sharing deal agreed in December, the unity government is meant to take over from rival groups running the country.

Libya has had two administrations since mid-2014 when the militia alliance overran Tripoli, setting up its own authority and forcing the internationally recognised parliament to flee to the country's remote east.

The country remains torn between the rival authorities and the heavily armed militias that support each.

Allegiances between the militias change frequently, which only adds to the instability, violence and danger faced by ordinary Libyans.