US and European Union back swift Libyan power handover


The United States and its European allies on Sunday called on Libya’s new unity government to swiftly move to Tripoli and take up power, threatening sanctions against those who undermine the political process.
“We call on all Libyan public institutions to facilitate a peaceful and orderly handover of power so that Libya’s new leaders can begin to govern from Libya’s capital,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Paris after a meeting with his counterparts from France, Britain, Italy and the European Union.

In a joint statement released after the meeting, the allies said the UN-backed unity government should move to Tripoli as soon as possible.

The presidential council, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, announced Saturday it was taking power despite lacking parliamentary approval.

Libya has had two rival administrations since mid-2014 when the recognised government was forced from Tripoli after a militia alliance including Islamists overran the capital.

A UN-brokered agreement in December between representatives of the rival parliaments provided for a power-sharing government to be based in Tripoli.

However last month, 100 lawmakers from the internationally recognised parliament said they supported a UN-backed unity government but were “forcibly prevented” from putting a new reduced cabinet line-up to a vote of confidence.

Al-Sarraj said in a statement on Saturday that the majority petition signed by lawmakers was equivalent to a vote of confidence.

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