UN urges Libya parliament to back unity government
TRIPOLI - The United Nations' Libya envoy urged lawmakers to back a unity government as he landed in Tripoli Sunday on the eve of a crucial confidence vote.
Libya's recognised parliament is set to vote Monday on the UN-backed Government of National Accord, supported by the international community in a bid to end years of chaos in the North African nation.
"It is always with open arms that I arrive in #Tripoli. Thank you to all Libyans: you make me feel at home," Martin Kobler said on Twitter after landing in a UN aircraft.
The envoy said he had met with Libyan political figures ahead of Monday's session of the House of Representatives, the internationally recognised legislature based in the country's east.
"We shared the sense of urgency: House of Reps should vote now on Govt of National Accord," he tweeted.
The legislature's endorsement would be a key step for the unity government of prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj, which has been working to assert its authority in the war-torn nation.
Libya has had two rival administrations since mid-2014 when a militia alliance took over Tripoli, setting up its own authority and forcing the recognised parliament to flee to the remote east.
Sarraj's government was formed under a UN-backed power-sharing deal agreed in December and supported by some lawmakers from both sides.
The unity cabinet has been steadily winning support from local officials and state institutions, though the head of the Tripoli-based administration, Khalifa Ghweil, has refused to recognise its authority.
Kobler visited Tripoli earlier this month shortly after Sarraj's government arrived in the capital under naval escort.
It was the start of a flurry of diplomatic trips to back the unity government, including a visit on Saturday by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The first clashes since Sarraj's arrival broke out several hours after their visit, but had subsided by early Sunday.
Gunfire and small explosions were heard overnight as two armed groups clashed in the Hay el-Andalous district north of the capital, an upmarket area housing embassies and home to many politicians, a correspondent said.
No information was immediately available on the cause or extent of the clashes or whether there had been any casualties.