T he UN-backed Libyan government took control of several major ministries on Monday in a bid to extend its authority across the country. It assumed charge of the foreign ministry, as well as the ministries for housing and public utilities, transport, social affairs, local government, youth and sports, and Islamic affairs.
As power is transferred to the Government of National Accord (GNA), it is more likely that this administration will become the main authority in Libya. The planning, education and labour ministries are due to be handed over in the days ahead. These handovers are a vital part of building the new government.
However, the GNA still has to win the support of the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli and the Council of Deputies in Tobruk and Bayda. The UN plan is to retain the GNC and the Council of Deputies as houses of parliament. This is key to the success of the UN peace plan.
Under the regime of long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi, Libya was governed through informal networks of power rather than stable institutions. The 2011 revolution defeated the regime, but it did not create the institutions necessary to hold the country together.
Since a civil war began in 2014, western Libya has been controlled by the GNC based in Tripoli, while the Council of Deputies based in Tobruk and Bayda retains control over much of the east.
Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates support the Council of Deputies, while Qatar, Turkey and Sudan back the GNC and its claim to legitimacy. Now the West and the UN are backing the GNA.
In the absence of any central government, Libya is dominated by militias. There are over 1,750 armed groups active in Libya. Each group has its own ideological and territorial allegiances.
At the handover, minister Mohammed al-Ammari claimed the transfer of power was “going well”, as Reuters reports.
UN envoy Martin Kobler sees the transitional unity government as necessary to solving the humanitarian crisis in Libya, he said in an interview with Middle East Eye.
The Council of Deputies has tried to begin exporting oil in violation of UN resolutions on crude sales with Libya, the Middle East Eye reports.