UNITED NATIONS — The UN Security Council gave its backing on Wednesday to the new national unity government in embattled Libya, a move it hopes will help stem mass migration to Europe and reverse gains made by jihadists from the Islamic State group.
The 15-nation council gave its support to the deal signed last week in the Moroccan town of Skhirat between representatives of strife-torn Libya's two competing regimes.
Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, Matthew Rycroft, presented the motion, which he said represents a "strong collective sign of our commitment to Libya's sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity".
"This is just the start of a process to deliver a prosperous and stable future for all Libyans," Rycroft declared.
"We urge all those who have not yet signed to decide now to support the agreement and to work with the government of national accord."
The United Nations envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler, is now working on arrangements to allow the unity government to safely set up shop in Tripoli, which is under the control of militia fighters.
"I encourage those who are not yet on board to join – the door is wide open," said Kobler after the UN vote, adding that a top priority of the new unified government will be "the fight against Daesh, the threat of Daesh" which he said is expanding toward the east, west and south of Libya.
Kobler employed the Arabic acronym used by many to refer to the jihadist Islamic State group, also known by the acronyms "ISIL" and "ISIS." Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gadhafi, with armed factions battling for territory and control of its oil wealth.
Subdue threat from IS
Its internationally recognised government was expelled from Tripoli in August 2014 and is based in the east of the country, while another Islamist-backed body holds the capital.
On December 17, under UN guidance, envoys from both sides and a number of independent political figures signed a deal to unify the government.
Around 80 of 188 lawmakers from Libya's internationally recognised parliament and 50 of 136 members of the rival Tripoli-based General National Congress signed the deal.
The agreement calls for a 17-member government, headed by businessman Fayez el-Sarraj as premier, based in the Libyan capital.
A presidential council would also serve for a transitional period of two years until legislative elections.
International officials expect the new government, once installed, to have the authority to request international assistance – perhaps even military intervention – to counter the growing threat from IS, which has seized a pocket of territory around Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte.
Washington's UN ambassador, Samantha Power, said Libya's new Government of National Accord, (GNA) with the passage of the resolution "will become the sole legitimate government of Libya". — AFP