UN Libya envoy meets unity government in Tripoli

Friday 01/04/2016
A visit to discuss the way ahead

TRIPOLI - The UN Libya envoy met the new unity government Tuesday on his first visit to the conflict-torn country since prime minister designate Fayez al-Sarraj's arrival in the capital last week.

Martin Kobler's arrival in Tripoli came amid international hopes that Sarraj's administration will be able to assert control over the country and end the chaos that has plagued Libya since Muammar Gaddafi's 2011 overthrow.

"Now meeting PM Sarraj and members of the Presidency Council. I am very happy to be here and discuss the way ahead," Kobler said on Twitter about an hour after announcing his arrival in the city.

"Just arrived in #Tripoli, first visit after arrival of PC (Presidency Council). Thrilled to be here!" he had written.

Kobler, a German diplomat appointed last year to spearhead international efforts to resolve the Libya conflict, posted photographs of himself descending from a UN turboprop plane and then meeting with officials including Sarraj.

Kobler had been prevented from travelling to the capital last month by authorities in charge of Tripoli, who have so far refused to cede power to the unity government.

Libya has had rival administrations since the Libya Dawn militia-backed alliance seized control of Tripoli in mid-2014, forcing the internationally recognised government to flee to the far east.

The unity government has been formed under a power-sharing agreed by some lawmakers in December. Sarraj arrived by sea last Wednesday and has since been operating out of a naval base.

The new administration has been broadening its support, winning the backing of the Libyan Investment Authority, the National Oil Corporation and the Central Bank.

Ten coastal cities that were under the control of the Tripoli authorities have also backed the new government.

Western governments are deeply concerned that Libya's disarray has allowed the jihadist Islamic State group to gain an important foothold in the country, but have said a foreign intervention can only take place at the request of a unity government.