Libyan militia attempt coup against UN-backed unity government

Published October 15th, 2016 - 03:02 GMT
Forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord. (AFP/File)
Forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord. (AFP/File)

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 Government of National Accord's (GNA) 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.

The coup leaders further declared that the GNA was now "void" and had been replaced by the national salvation government, which had joined the GNA coalition, strongly backed by the US, Britain and the European Union, in a purported bid to defeat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 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.

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 Sirte from Daesh militants.

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