10 Libyan cities pledge allegiance to new unity govt.
Ten Libyan cities controlled by a self-declared authority in Tripoli have pledged their support to the UN-backed unity government of the country, which has moved into the capital.
The announcement was made in a statement published on Thursday on the official Facebook page of the municipality of the northwestern city of Sabratha.
It came following a meeting between representatives from the 10 coastal cities located between Tripoli and the border with Tunisia.
The statement welcomed the arrival of the members of Libya’s UN-backed government to Tripoli and urged all Libyan citizens to “support the national unity government.”
It further called on Libya’s internationally-recognized administration to “put an immediate end to all armed conflicts across Libya.”
On Wednesday, Libya’s Prime Minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj along with several members of his cabinet arrived from Tunisia at Tripoli’s Abusita naval base by boat.
The internationally-recognized government had been largely based in the northeastern city of Tobruk.
However, the General National Congress (GNC), the non-recognized authority in charge of Tripoli, branded their entry into Tripoli illegal and demanded that Sarraj leave or surrender.
Tripoli officials had declared a state of emergency ahead of Sarraj’s arrival while several main highways were blocked by armed groups. Police were posted on the streets and flights were suspended for security reasons.
A television station that supports the Tripoli authorities went off the air late on Wednesday and there were brief clashes close to the city center.
Formed under a power-sharing deal signed on December 17, 2015 in Morocco, the unity government is tasked with taking over from rival groups running different parts of the North African state.
Libya has had two rival administrations since mid-2014, when militias overran the capital and forced the parliament to flee to the country’s remote east.
The oil-rich country has been dominated by violence since a NATO military intervention followed the 2011 uprising that led to the toppling and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Taking advantage of the political chaos, the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group took control of Libya’s northern port city of Sirte in June 2015 and made it the first city to be ruled by the militant group outside of Iraq and Syria, where they are mainly operative.