Libyan militias stage coup in Tripoli against UN-backed unity government

October 15, 2016 2:30 pm

Members of the forces loyal to ’s -backed Government of National Accord (GNA) gather in the coastal city of Sirte during a operation against Daesh militants on October 14, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Libyan militias based in the capital have reportedly attempted a coup against UN-sponsored coalition Government of National Accord (GNA) by capturing state buildings and vowing to take over power.
The militias seized the central Rixos hotel, which houses the government’s state council assembly, and a TV station late Friday night, describing the coup in a televised statement as a “historic initiative to rescue Libya,” the UK-based Guardian reported on Saturday.
This is while the GNA’s presidency issued a counter-statement calling on its forces to detain the coup leaders, the report added.
According to the report, the coup is being led by former prime minister of the national salvation government, Khalifa al-Ghwell, who had to step down after the establishment of GNA and the arrival of its officials in the capital in March.

Forces loyal to Libya’s GNA (Photo by AFP)

The coup leaders further declared that the GNA was now “void” and had been replaced by the national salvation government, which had joined the GNA coalition, strongly backed by the US, Britain and the European Union, in a purported bid to defeat the growing presence and influence of Daesh Takfiri terrorists in the North African country.
Meanwhile, the report added, pro-coup militiamen remained in control early Saturday around the Rixos complex of administrative buildings in pickup trucks with mounted machine guns.
This is while the whereabouts of the GNA’s seven-strong presidency, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, remains unclear amid reports that they have fled to neighboring Tunisia.

A handout picture released on August 31, 2016 on the official Facebook page of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj shows him (C) posing with forces of Government of National Accord (GNA) during his visit to Sirte.  (Photo by AFP)

The coup, according to the British daily, took place after militias affiliated with the Tripoli-based Dawn Coalition confronted the GNA forces around the Rixos, forcing the latter to pull back late afternoon without violence.
The fate of the coup will likely depend on the loyalty of dozens of militia groups that control Tripoli, and who have been engaged in battles throughout the capital city for several weeks.
The UN, with strong Western backing, wants the GNA to remain a “unity government,” in a bid to bring Libya’s factions together in the effort to defeat Daesh and contain the mass migration of refugees to Europe.
The GNA, however, has failed to win mass support or the backing of the elected Libyan parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk. This is while pro-GNA forces have also been engaged in a five-month battle, backed by US airstrikes, to recapture the coastal town of Sitre from Daesh terrorists.
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