The head of Libya’s internationally recognised government has called on rival forces to lay down their weapons, warning that they risked compromising a fragile ceasefire in the war-wracked country.
In a video address to the annual United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj welcomed commitments by political leaders in eastern Libya to stop violence and resume oil production.
“However, we have not yet seen cooperation from armed groups and the aggressive militias,” he said. “In fact, we have only seen hostile remarks from their spokesmen and violations by their forces,” added al-Sarraj, who heads the Government of National Accord (GNA).
“Therefore, we would hold them responsible for any military confrontations and any resulting casualties and destruction.”
Al-Sarraj delivered his prerecorded remarks to the world body’s first-ever virtual general assembly from Tripoli, the seat of the GNA.
Al-Sarraj has headed the GNA since its formation in late 2015 as a result of a UN-brokered political agreement aimed at uniting and stabilising Libya after the turmoil that followed the toppling of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Turkish military support for the GNA in June allowed it to repel a 14-month offensive by forces loyal to eastern-based renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, who is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia.
Al-Sarraj slammed Haftar’s attempt to take over the capital, calling it a “tyrannical attack” that risked returning the country to dictatorship.
Still, he welcomed political dialogue with all factions and regions of Libya, except those who have “spilled Libyan blood”.
The GNA and a parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk loosely allied with Haftar last month agreed on a ceasefire and elections by March next year.
After recent talks between the two sides in Morocco, al-Sarraj said he was willing to step down as a new government comes together.
On Thursday, al-Sarraj asked the UN for support in organising the upcoming vote.
“Libyans have waited too long for these elections, which will end the legitimacy crisis,” he said.