UN calls on Libya to clamp down on militias

UN calls on Libya to clamp down on militias
The war-torn country has been gripped by violence following the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi.
2 min read
20 August, 2018
Forces loyal to Libya's Islamist-backed General National Congress in Sirtre [Getty]

The UN has called on Libya's internationally-recognised government to get a handle on armed groups that are preventing state institutions from adequately functioning.

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) late Sunday night expressed its "strong condemnation of the violence, intimidation and obstruction to the work of Libya's sovereign institutions by militiamen".

It called on the UN-backed Government of National Accord to "prosecute those responsible for these criminal actions".

The GNA's military and security institutions have failed to place limits on the powerful militias that sprung up in the turmoil that followed the 2011 ouster of dictator Moammar Gaddafi.

Several state institutions, including those in Tripoli, have been regular targets of harassment and intimidation by armed groups technically operating under the GNA's interior ministry.

Last week, the GNA's National Oil Corp. said men from the interior ministry had forced their way into the headquarters of Brega Petroleum Marketing Company - a distribution outfit - to "arrest" its chief. 

The Libyan Investment Authority, the GNA-managed sovereign wealth fund, recently moved from its downtown Tripoli office to a more "secure" location after threats from militiamen against its employees. 

UNSMIL said it would work with the international community and the GNA to "investigate the possibility of bringing sanctions against those interfering with or threatening the operations of any sovereign institution". 

Libya remains divided between the UN-backed GNA in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east supported by military strongman Khalifa Haftar, a former Gaddafi ally who later came out against the ex-leader during the 2011 uprising.

A myriad of militias, jihadist groups and people traffickers have taken advantage of the chaos to gain a foothold in the North African country.

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