Libya’s Eastern Parliament Votes Against UN-Backed Goverment in Tripoli

Smoke rises during a battle between Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government and Daesh fighters in Sirte, Libya August 21, 2016. Picture taken August 21, 2016. REUTERS/Hani Amara

BENGHAZI, Libya, Aug 22 – Opponents of Libya’s U.N.-backed government voted on Monday against a motion of confidence in the Tripoli-based administration, in a rare session of the parliament based in the east of the country.

The vote is a fresh blow for the Government of National Accord (GNA), which has been seeking the parliament’s endorsement for months as it tries to extend its influence and authority beyond its base in the capital.

The vote was the first since January, when the parliament rejected an initial list of ministers put forward by the GNA’s leadership, and the first since the GNA began installing itself in Tripoli in March.

Parliamentary sessions in the city of Tobruk have been repeatedly delayed or blocked as opposition to the GNA in eastern Libya has hardened.

GNA supporters, many of whom did not attend Monday’s sitting, had previously complained that opponents used physical force and threats to prevent votes from taking place.

Spokesman Abdallah Bilhaq said 101 deputies had attended Monday’s session, with 61 voting against the GNA, 39 abstaining, and just one voting in favour.

The GNA is the result of a U.N.-mediated agreement signed in December. The deal aimed to resolve a conflict that flared up in 2014, when an armed alliance took control of institutions in Tripoli and the newly-elected parliament relocated to the east.

Western powers have been counting on the GNA to tackle Libya’s security vacuum, revive oil production, and stem the flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe.

While forces aligned with the GNA have largely recaptured the coastal city of Sirte from Islamic State militants, the government has struggled to make an impact in other areas, losing support because of its inability to resolve a liquidity crisis, power cuts and other problems.

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