UN envoy urges Libya's new government to get to work

2016-04-07 22:04
Libya's Prime Minister-designate, Fayez al-Sarraj speaks during a press in the Moroccan resort of Skhirat. (AFP)

Libya's Prime Minister-designate, Fayez al-Sarraj speaks during a press in the Moroccan resort of Skhirat. (AFP)

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New York - Libya's new Tripoli-based government must get down to "practical work" to ensure a peaceful handover of power from the country's many factions, the UN envoy told the Security Council on Thursday.

Martin Kobler told a closed-door session of the council that he was "cautiously optimistic" about prospects for the new unity government that will seek to restore order to Libya, diplomats said.

The UN-backed government is led by Fayez al-Sarraj who arrived in the capital a week ago.

Libya has had two rival administrations since mid-2014 when a militia alliance overran Tripoli, setting up its own authority and forcing the internationally recognized parliament to flee to the country's east.

Kobler said Sarraj must begin "practical work" with his ministerial team even though security is fragile, a diplomat said.

The envoy, who briefed by video-conference for two hours, said on Twitter that council members wanted Libyan lawmakers based in the country's east to vote on endorsing the new government to give it "full legitimacy."

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters following the briefing that much work remained to be done to shore up the new government.

"It's good that some progress has been made but the situation in the country of course continues to be nearly catastrophic," Churkin said.

"We'll have to continue to work to make sure that there is maximum unity among the various political forces in the country and this is not the case yet," he said.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft sounded more upbeat, telling reporters ahead of the meeting that "finally there has been some good news" out of Libya with the government now in Tripoli.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre stressed that shoring up the new government was key to confronting the threat from the Islamic State group, which has been gaining a foothold in Libya.

"Let's be clear about it, Libya has now the opportunity -- to a certain extent, the historic opportunity -- to create the conditions for stability, for the benefit of all Libyan people, and roll back the chaos on which Daesh has thrived," said Delattre, using an alternative name for IS.

Sarraj was picked by the United Nations in October to lead the new unity government, but faced much resistance from Libya's myriad political factions and armed groups.

Read more on:    un  |  fayez al-sarraj  |  libya  |  north africa

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