, SKHIRAT, Morocco, Oct 9 – Libya has agreed to form a new national government headed by Prime Minister Fayez el-Sarraj after months of tortuous negotiations, United Nations envoy Bernardino Leon said Friday.
Libya, which plunged into chaos after the fall of Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, has had two rival parliaments vying for power as well as several groups battling for control of the country’s vast resource wealth.
The internationally recognised government of Abdullah al-Thani has been working out of the small eastern port of Tobruk near the Egyptian border since a militia alliance, including Islamists, captured Tripoli last year.
“After a year of work on this process, after working with more than 150 Libyan personalities from all the regions, finally the moment has come in which we can propose a national unity government,” Leon told a news conference in Morocco.
Previous deals to ensure a ceasefire and restore stability to the war-torn country have fallen apart and officials from both sides expressed scepticism after the announcement.
Abdulsalam Bilashahir, of the Tripoli-based General National Congress, told the BBC: “We are not a part of this (proposed) government. It means nothing to us and we were not consulted.”
Ibrahim Alzaghiat, from the internationally recognised House of Representatives based in Tobruk, was also quoted as saying: “This proposed government will lead to the division of Libya and will turn it into a joke. Mr. Leon’s choice was unwise.”
But Leon said the new government, which will include three deputy prime ministers — one each from the west, east and south of the country — and add another member to the now six-person presidential council, would survive.
“Far too many Libyans have lost their lives and so many mothers have suffered. Today, nearly 2.4 million Libyans need humanitarian aid,” he said.
“We believe (this government) can succeed. The Libyans must seize this historic opportunity to save Libya.”
Years of chaos in Libya has turned it into a hub for human-trafficking gangs, which have fuelled Europe’s huge migrant crisis by sending thousands of people on the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.
More than 3,000 people have died or are feared drowned after trying to make the crossing since the start of this year, according to the UN refugee agency.
On Thursday, Libyan authorities said they had arrested some 300 migrants as they were preparing to board boats.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini welcomed the announcement from Libya, and pledged some 100 million euros ($110 million) in support for the new government.
“There is no time to waste in the formation of a Government of National Accord, so that it may — with the full recognition and support of the international community — begin working for the benefit of all the Libyan people,” she said in a statement.