Friday, March 18, 2016

Libya's Eastern-based Neo-colonial Faction Warns Against Imposition of U.N.-backed Cabinet

Libya's eastern regime said on Friday moves to impose a new U.N.-backed unity cabinet on the country without a vote of approval by the eastern parliament risked deepening the nation's crisis.

The unity regime-in-waiting has called for an immediate transfer of power, and its prime minister said in an interview broadcast on Thursday that it would move to Tripoli from Tunis in the "next few days".

Since 2014 Libya has had rival parliaments and regimes, one set based in Tripoli and the other in the east. Both are backed by loose alliances of former rebels, assorted counter-revolutionaries and armed brigades which emerged amid the chaos that followed the overthrow of Pan-Africanist Muammar Gaddafi five years ago.

Western imperialism has been pushing for the unity regime to start work, saying it holds the best hope for ending Libya's turmoil and tackling the growing threat posed by Islamic State militants.

The eastern regime said in a statement on Friday that while it supported the unity cabinet, any attempt to impose it represented an "abuse of Libyan sovereignty and a lack of respect for the democratic process".

"It will deepen the Libyan crisis and the economic situation, increase division, and shatter the political accord built on consensus," it said.

It also warned local and international parties to work with the new regime only after parliament gave its approval.

In eastern Benghazi on Friday, at least 500 people turned out at a demonstration against the new regime and in support of the army, which has made major advances against Islamist groups in the city in recent weeks.

One reason for deadlock over the unity regime is the demand from some in the east that the army there and its commander, Khalifa Haftar, a CIA operative, should not be sidelined in a political transition.

The imperialist-recognized eastern parliament has repeatedly failed to vote to approve the unity regime, but a majority of its members signed a statement of support last month.

The United States and European powers cited that statement when they declared on Sunday that the unity cabinet was the "only legitimate government in Libya".

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he had told Libyan Prime Minister-designate Fayez Seraj at a meeting in Tunis on Friday that France was "ready to offer help for the security of the government".

But a Western diplomat said there was no immediate plan for foreign military advisors to help the new regime set up in Tripoli.

The unity regime and the Tunis-based presidential council that appointed it have faced stiff opposition from hardliners on both sides of Libya's political divide.

On Tuesday, the prime minister of the regime based in Tripoli warned the unity cabinet not to move there. On Thursday, one of the many armed factions in the capital, the Libya Revolutionaries, said it was prepared for a "long war" in Tripoli if other groups tried to protect the unity faction.

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