Libya gets 'Presidential Guard'

Tripoli - Libya's government of national unity on Tuesday announced the creation of a new military force to protect government buildings, border posts, vital installations and VIPs, a statement said.

It was the first move by the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) to reorganise armed forces in the North African country that has been mired in chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi.

The GNA announced on its Facebook page that the "Presidential Guard" will be Tripoli-based but will include members of the police and army "selected in different regions" of Libya.

It will ensure security at "presidential complexes... and public buildings", as well as providing close protection for members of the government and "notable guests" of the country.

Manpower figures were not given, but the new force's tasks will include protecting "sensitive sites including maritime, air and land borders, the sources and supply of water and electricity power plants".

After Gaddafi was overthrown and killed nearly five years ago, dozens of heavily armed militias in the capital and in cities across western Libya held onto weaponry they had used to battle the dictator's forces.

In the east, controversial General Khalifa Haftar, self-proclaimed commander-in-chief, controls the "Libyan Arab armed forces" who include former regular soldiers and disparate armed factions.

The presidential council has no authority over Haftar's forces who remain loyal to a parallel government backed by the internationally recognised parliament now based in the east.

Formed under a UN-backed power-sharing deal agreed by some Libyan lawmakers in December, the GNA has been working to assert its authority but has yet to receive the official endorsement of the recognised parliament.

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