Libya’s recognized parliament rejects UN-backed unity government

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The internationally recognized parliament in Libya has voted against a UN-backed unity government.

The parliament in Tobruk, also known as the House of Representatives, rejected the deal in a vote on Jan. 25.

Libyan women raise red cards during a protest against the national unity government. /AFP
Libyan women raise red cards during a protest against the national unity government. /AFP

“We voted against endorsing the government and ask… to be presented with another government,” parliamentarian Ali al-Gaydi said.

The Jan. 25 vote is seen as a major setback for UN and Western diplomats who had urged Libyans to back the agreement as a step toward ending the unrest that has engulfed the country since Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s overthrow in 2011.

Under a UN-backed agreement, a national unity government headed by businessman Fayez al-Sarraj was formed last week, but it required the backing of the Tobruk parliament.

Parliament member Al-Saliheen Abdelnabbi said the government had been rejected because its cabinet was too large. He called for “a smaller government without this high number of ministries.”

A Reuters report said 104 of 176 members of the Tobruk parliament attended the vote and 89 voted against backing the government proposed by Libya’s Presidential Council last week.

Libya currently has two rival factions fighting for power, the internationally recognized government in Tobruk and a militia-backed authority in Tripoli.

Adding to the chaotic situation is the growing presence of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and its increasing threat to the country’s vital oil sector.

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