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Libya's Tripoli government to step down

BBC News BBC News 6/04/2016
Security forces in front of the headquarters of the municipal council of Tripoli (05 April 2016) © Reuters Security forces in front of the headquarters of the municipal council of Tripoli (05 April 2016)

One of two rival governments in Libya has announced that it is stepping down, a justice ministry statement has said.

Libya's unity government Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj arriving at a naval base in Tripoli, Libya - Wednesday 30 March 2016: Unity government PM Fayez Sarraj and his colleagues arrived at a naval base in Tripoli last week © AP Unity government PM Fayez Sarraj and his colleagues arrived at a naval base in Tripoli last week

The announcement comes less than a week after the arrival in Tripoli of a UN-backed national unity government.

War-damaged buildings in the centre of the eastern coastal city of Benghazi (27 February 2016): It is hoped the UN-backed national unity government will restore stability in war-ravaged Libya © AFP It is hoped the UN-backed national unity government will restore stability in war-ravaged Libya

The Tripoli-based administration said it was standing down to prevent further bloodshed.

map © BBC map

Since 2014 Libya has had two competing administrations, the one in Tripoli backed by powerful militias and the other in the eastern city of Tobruk.

The Tobruk-based administration, formed by the House of Representatives, still opposes the UN-backed body.

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"We inform you that we are stopping our work as an executive power, as the presidency and ministers of the government," said the statement by the self-declared National Salvation government.

This authority was set up by the former parliament, the General National Congress (GNC).

Correspondents say the statement carried the stamp of the government but did not have any names or signatures of ministers.

The UN-brokered unity government arrived in Tripoli last week and is now operating from the city's naval base as it strives to restore peace in a country ravaged by factional conflict.

Western countries want the unity government to unite as many factions in Libya as possible against an increasingly powerful affiliate of the group known as Islamic State.

But it is not clear how the new administration, led by the Presidency Council, will be able to assert its authority given the opposition it will inevitably face elsewhere in the country.

Some rival lawmakers in December signed up to the United Nations agreement to form a unity administration, but the deal has not yet been backed by all the country's many militia brigades that formed after the uprising.

The deal saw the formation of a nine-member Presidency Council, which includes the unity Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj.

The UN says it is considering lifting sanctions on Libya's estimated $67bn (£46.8bn) sovereign wealth fund if the government can regain control of the country.

Analysis: Rana Jawad, BBC North Africa correspondent

The decision of one of Libya's two rival governments to dissolve itself a week after the UN-backed Presidency Council arrived in Tripoli does not mean the parliament there has ceded power - in fact it is split over the UN-backed deal.

But it does draw a line under one of three rival authorities that have technically existed in recent weeks.

The government led by Abdullah al-Thinni in Tobruk remains in place but is also split over the UN-backed agreement which was signed in December by members of both rival parliaments.

The Tobruk government is backed by what is still the internationally recognised parliament and Libya's only legislative body under a UN-backed agreement.

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