Cairo – Tension escalated in Libyan capital between Libyan factions hours after the U.N.-backed government seized a building used by parliament in Tripoli, proclaiming its own authority and demanding a new government in cooperation with the temporary government led by Abdullah al-Thani.
Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that limited clashes erupted between militias of Chairman of the High Council of State Abdulrahman Asswehly and security of the Rixos Hotel where the Libyan Parliament currently meets.
A parliamentary official told Asharq Al-Awsat that he expects for the situation to escalate in the upcoming hours to regain control over the headquarters of the High Council of State, which is now under the control of militias of former PM Khalifa al-Ghowel’s internationally unrecognized government.
Asswehly threatened to take back the council and granted Ghowel 24 hours to evacuate the office. Yet, the official said that the council is well-secured against any break-in attempts.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that people are scared and anxious and war could erupt at any minute now. He added that militias of the U.N-supported government are deployed in certain areas of Tripoli, but they can’t do anything and the Rixos hotel is under control.
Members of Fayez al-Sarraj government said they had taken over the Rixos in the capital, where part of the U.N.-backed government is supposed to operate. The hotel was already controlled by an armed group loyal to them.
Few hours after the militias’ control, former PM Ghowel said that the presidential council had many opportunities to form a government and failed. He called for the formation of a new government.
“The presidential council was given several chances to form the government, but it fails… and has become an illegal executive authority,” Ghwail said in a statement late on Friday.
Ghwail called for a new administration to be formed by his former Tripoli government and its rival in the east, where hardliners also oppose the U.N.-backed administration. He said all institutions including banks, the judiciary and local authorities were under their jurisdiction.
Media bureau of Sarraj said that the presidential council discussed security situation in the country during its meeting.
The presidential council issued a statement saying that Minister of Interior al-Aref al-Khawaj presented a detailed report on the security situation as well as plans set to deal with violations.
“The seizure of the state council is an attempt to hinder the implementation of political agreement by a group which rejects this deal after it has proved its failure in managing the state,” the presidential council said in a statement.
U.N.-backed government posted images on social media of its presidential council and ministers holding a meeting in the main offices of parliament in a different part of Tripoli.
Thani’s government, loyal to the parliament, welcomed Ghwail’s suggestion for a joint government and called upon the parliament to decide on this request as soon as possible.
U.S. State department expressed its great concern about the developments in Libya, saying: “We are in true support for the U.N.-brokered Government of National Accord, which is the legitimate choice of the Libyans and Libyan political parties.”
Likewise, the European Union and United Nations warned of parallel institutions and ensured their support for the GNA government.