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Libya - Politics

Libya had two rival administrations since mid-2014 when a militia alliance overran the capital, setting up its own authority and forcing the internationally recognised parliament to flee to the country's remote east. A third government, the UN-backed Government of National Unity (GNA), was established in December 2015.

There are over 1,700 para-military groups and small fringe militia groups in Libya by one estimate. Some are Islamist, some are non-Islamist, but they all fight each other. The only thing which united them and that united them was the opposition against Gadhafi. Now they are really looking for a cause, and the cause really is to gain power and to obtain as much economic loot as they can.

Libya is caught up in chaos with its Congress deadlocked between Islamists and a leading nationalist party, with infighting between the National Forces Alliance party, and the Islamist Justice and Construction party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya. The National Forces Alliance (NFA) was formed in 2012 by liberal war-time leader Mahmoud Jibril. The nascent army is struggling to assert itself against unruly former rebels, tribal groups and Islamist militants.

Libya's tribes and regions remain highly polarized following the 2011 civil war that ended the four-decade rule of Moammar Gadhafi. Residents of Zawiya and other regions battered by Gadhafi's attacks during the conflict demanded high-level positions in Libya's post-war government, leading to friction among rival communities.

The challenges facing Libya are further compounded by the 42-year legacy of dysfunctional State institutions, which were purposely undermined over decades of authoritarian rule. Tribal and regional tensions, the absence of political norms and the suppression of independent elites and civil society also resulted in insufficient capacity to foster the type of far-reaching changes that are required.

There is a regional dimension to the significant political changes in Libya. Developments, particularly in Egypt and Tunisia, have had a palpable effect on the political scene and greatly influenced the behaviour of some political forces. These events have injected a sense of unease into the political system as different political actors reassessed their positions regarding the major problems confronting Libya and the region more generally.

Government of National Unity (GNA)

On 10 June 2015 the United Nations and major world powers urged rival factions in Libya to accept a power-sharing agreement and put an end to nearly four years of fighting, terrorism and political turmoil. UN diplomats and other top officials meeting in Berlin issued a joint statement saying an inclusive political settlement was the only lasting solution to Libya's problems. They urged all Libyans to remove the remaining obstacles to a deal.

Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said 01 July 2015 that he was willing to sign a power-sharing deal with Islamists who have set up a rival government in Tripoli. Thinni said during a visit to Malta that the "wise and kind people of Libya" wanted a solution to the country's long-running political chaos and uncertainty. Some parties to the conflict initialed a peace agreement on July 11.

After many months of complex and difficult negotiations, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, Bernardino León, said in August 2015 that it might be possible to hammer out a final agreement on a unity government for conflict-ridden Libya by early September.

On October 09, 2015 the UN envoy for Libya announced the proposal of a new unity government for the divided nation in what could be a key step toward ending four years of chaos and political turmoil. Under the plan, a member of the Tripoli-based parliament, Fayez Sarraj, was named prime minister. He would have three deputies. Six ministers would make up a presidential council.

On October 19, 2015 Libya's internationally-recognized parliament rejected the UN proposal for a unity government with Islamists. The exact reason for the decision is unclear, but one report said the lawmakers were upset by amendments to the deal added by the Islamists without their approval.

On 06 December 2015 the two rival governing bodies in Libya have announced they had reached an agreement aimed at ending the power standoff which followed Moammar Gadhafi's overthrow. The plan would need approval by both parliaments. The draft was an alternative to the agreement which the UN has been leading mediation on for the past year. However, both plans have the broad intention for the country to be controlled by a national unity government.

On 30 March 2016 members of Libya's UN-backed Presidential Council reached Tripoli by ship on Wednesday, defying attempts to keep them out of the city and prevent them from installing a unity government. Seven members of the Council including Fayez Seraj, its head and the new government's prime minister, arrived from Tunisia at Tripoli's Abusita naval base amid tight security.

The Libyan faction in control of Tripoli demandedy that the head of a UN-backed unity government leave the capital, just hours after he arrived amid international calls for Libya's rivals to unite behind his administration. In a televised address the head of the Tripoli authorities, which are not recognised by the international community, said Fayez al-Seraj's Government of National Unity (GNA) was "illegal", asking him to leave the capital or to "hand himself in".

The GNA had called for an immediate transfer of power to the unity government, though both the Tripoli and eastern-based governments oppose this. The unity government's 18 members have so far failed to secure a vote of approval from Libya's eastern, internationally-recognised parliament, as required under the UN-mediated deal, and Fathi al-Mrimi, a spokesman for the eastern parliament's president, said its arrival was "premature".

But on 05 April 2016 Libya’s self-declared National Salvation Government based in Tripoli said that it will resign. The statement came just a week after the UN-brokered national unity government set up shop in Libya’s capital. The National Salvation Government released a statement saying that it would “cease duties.”

“We put the interests of the nation above anything else, and stress that the bloodshed stop and the nation be saved from division and fragmentation.” Created as a result of a deal brokered by the UN in December to unite the country’s divided leadership, the so-called Government of National Accord (GNA) was tasked with establishing authority over Libya in the wake of years of chaos triggered by the fall of autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The leaders of the other rival government, the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk, began making conciliatory statements.

But on 06 April 2016 the odds of a unity government taking hold in Libya got smaller when the rival Tripoli-based administration backed down from its promise to give up power. The National Salvation Government ordered security forces to stay on the job and continue protecting the administration. It also said it would hold the new unity government responsible for any violations of its security.

Under the UN deal, the presidential council was meant to lead a unified government. The HoR will be the main legislature, while a State Council made up mainly of GNC members would be a second, consultative chamber. Elections are supposed to be held within six months.




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