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Libya Rivals Form UN Backed Unity Government

Libya's Presidential Council announced a new government on Tuesday aimed at uniting the warring factions, and stopping the chaos that has engulfed the country in recent years. The Unity Presidential Council said it has agreed on a 32-member Cabinet, drawn of representatives from across the country. Two of its nine members however rejected it in a sign of continuing divisions over its U.N. backed plan for a political transition. One council member pulled out of the process, saying eastern Libya was not properly represented while local media said there were disagreements over the size of the government.


The council had delayed its announcement of the new government by 48 hours without giving a reason. Whether the new government will in fact be able to govern the country remains to be seen. The internationally recognized parliament in eastern Libya now has 10 days to approve the new government.
There has been no announcement on how and when the new government to be led by Fayez Seraj, an eastern parliament lawmaker who also heads the Presidential Council, would be able to establish itself in Libya.
Libya slid into chaos following the 2011 toppling and killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Since 2014, its divisions only increased, splitting it into two governments and parliaments. the internationally recognized one in the country's east, and an Islamist-backed one in the capital, Tripoli. Each side is backed by an array of different militias. Amid the chaos, a Libyan affiliate of the Islamic State group has surged, claiming responsibility for a series of deadly attacks as it tries to expand its territory and take control of oil terminals and fields, the sole source of Libya's wealth. Both rial Governments are supported by loose alliances of armed brigades of rebels who once fought Gaddafi.
Tripoli is controlled by a faction called Libya Dawn, and the head of the self-declared government that it backs said last week that preparations by the Presidential Council to secure the capital violated military law. The eastern military forces are led by Gen Khalifa Haftar, a former Gaddafi ally who has become one of the most divisive figures among Libya's rival groups. In a statement on Tuesday, U.N. Libya envoy Martin Kobler urged the eastern parliament to "uphold the country's national interest above all other considerations and promptly convene to discuss and endorse the proposed cabinet".
Kobler visited eastern Libya on Sunday to try to drum up support for the new government, but some in the parliament there, known as the House of Representatives, remain opposed.
The 32 ministers who will serve under Seraj include Khalifa Abdessadeq as oil minister. Libya's current oil production is under 400,000 barrels per day, less than a quarter of a 2011 high of 1.6 million bpd.
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