The chief of Libya’s new UN-backed government has reached Tripoli, defying threats from city militias, to proclaim a new order for the conflict-ravaged country in a move that could eventually pave the way for international forces to provide troops and air support.
Since Libya’s airspace had been closed by the existing Tripoli-based authorities, the prime minister designate, Fayez Sarraj, and seven members of the presidential council travelled from Tunisia by sea to the city’s Abusita naval base.
Sarraj is expected to call for outside help to train a new Libyan army and launch airstrikes against Islamic State bases in the country.
Sarraj told Reuters the council members had travelled in a Libyan navy vessel from the Tunisian port of Sfax, 12 hours away.
“There are challenges ahead of us, including uniting Libyans and healing divisions,” he said after arriving. He later made a brief statement saying the government would release a programme in the coming days.
“We will work for a ceasefire across Libya, for national reconciliation and the return of displaced people, and we will seek to confront Islamic State,” he said.
Western powers have recognised Sarraj’s government of national accord as Libya’s only legitimate government, but it faces opposition from both of the country’s existing regimes – the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC) and the elected House of Representatives in eastern Libya – and Sarraj may flounder without western support.