The internationally recognized head of government in Libya wants to resign. Prime Minister al-Sarraj said on television that the office would hand over successors by the end of October at the latest.
The Prime Minister of the internationally recognized government in Libya, Fajis al-Sarraj, announced his resignation. Al-Sarraj said in a televised speech that he wanted to hand over official matters to the new government by the end of October. His announcement comes at a time of massive protests against miserable living conditions and widespread corruption in a divided country. Talks are also under way to end the long-running conflict in Libya.
Following the overthrow and death of longtime ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011, Libya sank into a civil war. On the one hand, there is the Al-Sarraj government in Tripoli, on the other hand, there is a competitive government in the east of the country, each supported by different militias and states.
International peace efforts
In April 2019, the renegade military general Khalifa Haftar, who ruled eastern and southern Libya, launched an offensive to capture Tripoli. However, his campaign collapsed in June, when militias loyal to an internationally recognized government prevailed with the massive support of Turkey. Haftar’s forces were pushed out of the suburbs of Tripoli and other cities in the west of the country.
Earlier this month, delegates from competing camps met under international pressure to act. They approached each other. The talks reached a new preparatory phase, aimed at unifying Libyan institutions and preparing for new elections, al-Sarraj added. Both sides have already agreed that a new government should be formed and that elections should be held within 18 months. The demilitarization of the controversial city of Sirte has also been agreed on a provisional basis. This place is controlled by Haftar and is considered the gateway to Libya’s large oil fields and export terminals, which are also held by the general.
Negotiations should continue soon
Talks between the conflicting parties are expected to continue in Geneva soon. Al-Sarraj called on negotiators to quickly appoint a new government to “ensure a peaceful and smooth transition.” In 2015, the 60-year-old former architect was commissioned to lead the so-called Presidential Council, which was created as part of an agreement signed by the Libyan conflict parties in Skhirat, Morocco.
However, contrary to what was agreed at the time, it was not possible to form a national government in Tripoli and bridge the deep gap between rival parliaments, governments and military alliances. Rather, the conflict escalated into a bloody war of deputies. Haftar is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Jordan and Egypt. Troops from Tripoli in the west of the country can rely on Qatar and Turkey.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a new political process in Libya. This must restore existing institutions while paving the way for elections with a reasonable delay. “There are signs of hope.”