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Tobruk rejects vote of confidence in UN-backed 'unity' Libyan government

Troops allied to the Government of National Accord claim battlefield advance against IS despite political setbacks for leaders
Aqilah Saleh, head of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, during a regional summit in Egypt last year (AFP)

Libya’s eastern-based government on Monday refused to throw its weight behind a UN-backed “unity government” for the country, in a further blow to peace talks.

The House of Representatives (HoR), which has been locked in a power struggle with rival parliament the General National Congress (GNC) since 2014, on Monday rejected a confidence motion in the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). 

The GNA was installed in March this year in hopes of healing Libya’s deep political rifts, but since then has failed to win the support of either the HoR or the GNC, although some members have broken off to join the GNA.

The vote was held in the far eastern town of Tobruk, from where the HoR has operated from a hotel since being pushed out of the capital Tripoli in 2014.

Only one member approved the motion to back the GNA – 61 rejected the proposal, while 39 abstained.

The body proposed instead that the GNA should be reformulated.

The GNA has been holding meetings with political and tribal leaders in Libya for months, and despite the failure to secure backing from the two existing rival governments, has won the support of key bodies like the central bank and the oil regulator.

Its military wing has been battling since May to retake the major city of Sirte from militants claiming allegiance to Islamic State (IS) group.

The pro-GNA forces, which since mid-August have been backed up by US air strikes, said on Monday that they had made further progress, recapturing a building used as an IS prison as well as a courthouse.

However, 12 fighters from the group were killed and 85 wounded in the clashes, which lasted all day on Sunday.