Government of National Accord
Government of National Accord
حكومة الوفاق الوطني
As of 2016, the Government of National Accord had 17 ministers and was led by the Prime Minister
. The first meeting of the cabinet of the GNA took place on 2 January 2016 in Tunis.
A full cabinet consisting of 18 ministers was announced in January 2016.
The Prime Minister of GNA, Fayez al-Sarraj, and six other members of the Presidential Council and proposed cabinet arrived in Tripoli
on 30 March 2016.
The following day, it was reported that GNA has taken control of the prime ministerial offices.
From 2015 to 2016, GNA struggled to assert its authority and was largely unsuccessful in unifying Libya. The Government of National Accord's ultimate viability was uncertain given that the country remained greatly divided across political, tribal and ideological lines.
The mandate and legality of the Government of National Accord expired in 2017 according to the Libyan Political Agreement, Parliament and the United Nations which endorsed it.
Division under the GNC
Following the 2012 creation of the GNC
, several factions have expressed concern with its actions. While the majority of elected officials in the GNC
were moderate or liberal, there was a strong minority of representatives of Islamist parties, including the elected president, Nouri Abusahmain
, causing unrest among liberals and exasperating political divides in Libya.
Further decisions to impose exclusionary rules that prevent those who served under Gaddafi
from holding office in the GNC
, to impose sharia law
and to extend the mandate of the GNC
another year, postponing general elections also caused dissent towards the GNC
On February 14, 2014, Khalifa Haftar
called for the dissolution of the GNC
, and creation of a president's council that could better organize a constitution and free elections and in May he led a militia offensive called Operation Dignity
which seized control of Tripoli.
On June 25, 2014, elections were held for the new Libya legislative body, the House of Representatives
or Libyan House of Representatives
, even as Haftar's militia continued its campaign with attacks in Benghazi
Moderate and liberal groups became the majority of the Libyan House of Representatives
, but because of low turnouts (estimated as low as 18% of the electorate), Islamist groups rejected the results. Meanwhile, Islamist militias began attacks and bombings in major cities, including the assassination of Salwa Bughaighis
, a women's rights activist, in Benghazi and a car bombing in al-Bayda
Islamist militias soon seized control of Misrata
and created its own campaign, called Operation Libya Dawn
. This led the Libyan House of Representatives
to flee from Tripoli
Efforts to mend divisions in Libya began in early 2015. On January 15, 2015, Operation Dignity forces agreed to a ceasefire with Operation Libya Dawn, while the Tobruk government agreed to talks with the Libya Dawn backed GNC
, but several key members of Libya Dawn and its GNC government did not attend the planned talks in Geneva
Throughout the first half of 2015, the United Nations facilitated talks between factions to draft a plans for a unity government that would bring an end to the civil war, but those proposals met resistance from all factions, with a fourth draft being rejected by the Libyan House of Representatives
on June 9.
After continued talks throughout the remainder of 2015, a peace agreement between the two factions was signed on December 17 in Skhirat, Morocco
The agreement created a Presidential Council
and the High Council of State
and established the Government of National Accord. Despite bipartisan support of the agreement, both factions also had members who did not support the deal and it was feared that well-armed militias would not comply to deal.
After an endorsement by the United NationsSecurity Council
, the GNA was almost immediately recognized by the international community as Libya's legitimate government.Federica Mogherini
, the EU
foreign policy chief, called the agreement an “essential step” and said that only a unity government would be equipped to “end political divisions, defeat terrorism, and address the numerous security, humanitarian, and economic challenges the country faces."
The GNA held its first meeting in Tunis
on January 8, 2016,
had nominated ministers to all positions by February and received a vote of confidence from the Libyan House of Representatives
in on March 12, 2016.
On March 30, 2016, the Government of National Accord moved its Presidential Council to Tripoli despite threats from militant groups in the city. The Presidential Council is currently operating out of a naval base in the city.
Support for the GNA has since continued to grow. Elders from the Tuareg
peoples have expressed support for the GNA.
Conflict with the Tobruk government
Despite the early deals that were made, the Tobruk-based Libyan House of Representatives
voted against approving the GNA during the summer of 2016 and became their rival for governing Libya.
In the early months of 2017, cooperation between the two governments broke down completely. In February, a meeting between Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter
and Prime Minister Sarraj took place in Cairo
, but despite Egyptian and Russian pressure the two sides were unable to come to an agreement.
In March, the pro-GNA Benghazi Defense Brigades seized control
of the oil facilities in the Gulf of Sidra
region from the eastern parliament's Libyan National Army
, which had captured them back in September 2016. The LNA launched a counterattack and the Tobruk government demanded the GNA to condemn their acts. The Libyan House of Representatives
later withdrew its recognition of the GNA and called for new elections to be held by early 2018.
During early 2017, the GNA still lacked popular support due to its weak military force and inability to control Tripoli. However, in late April and early May a meeting occurred between Prime Minister Sarraj and Field Marshal Haftar in Abu Dhabi
. They met for two hours and sources suggest that their meeting was positive, with the premier later stating that they both agreed on the need for a peaceful solution.
Reportedly the meeting materialized thanks to pressure on Haftar by the UAE
. They also agreed to form a new Presidential Council as part of a power-sharing agreement and hold elections in March 2018.
In May 2018, talks occurred in Paris, France, where leaders of the Government of National Accord and representatives of Haftar's Libyan National Army agreed on establishing a legal framework by 16 September 2018 to hold a general election
The election did not occur before December, with another series of talks known as the Palermo Conference
in November 2018 promising an election to take place either in early 2019 or in June of that year.
On 16 September, Fayez al-Sarraj stated that he will be stepping down from his position by the end of October 2020. This has come after one month of protests in Tripoli.
However, on 31 October 2020, al-Sarraj rescinded his decision to resign and plans to remain in office until national elections can be arranged and a new presidential council is selected. Elections are one of the issues scheduled to be discussed during intra-Libyan dialogues on 9 November 2020.
Libyan Political Agreement
The Government of National Accord is codified in the Libyan Political Agreement signed on 17 December 2015 at a conference in Skhirat, Morocco. This agreement has been unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Security Council
which has recognized that the Government of National Accord is the sole legitimate government of Libya
The Libyan Political agreement gives executive authority and a mandate approved by the UN recognized Libyan parliament, the legislative authority the house of representatives in Tobruk to the GNA. It also establishes the High Council of State
, a consultative body independent of the GNA.
According to the original document, the Libyan Political Agreement is founded on four main principles: “Ensuring the democratic rights of the Libyan people, the need for a consensual government based on the principle of the separation of powers, oversight and balance between them, as well as the need to empower state institutions like the Government of National Accord so that they can address the serious challenges ahead, respect for the Libyan judiciary and its independence."
The Libyan political agreement expired in 2017 and so was the legal mandate for the GNA.
Declaration of Principles
During the same time that the Libyan Political Agreement was signed, the two rival parliaments, the Libyan House of Representatives
and the GNC
, signed a Declaration of Principles between them in Tunis
aimed at bringing about a national unity government. Despite occurring parallel to the Libyan Political Agreement, this new deal was separate to the U.N.
-led agreement, a peace-process that has struggled to prove acceptable to either the GNC
or the Libyan House of Representatives
. This new declaration involved establishing a 10-person committee, 5 from each side, that together would select an interim Prime Minister and two Deputies with full legislative elections taking place within two years.
Given that the GNC
has refused to put forward candidates for a unity government under the U.N.
process, this new deal was seen as a reaction and domestic response to the pressure exerted from the international community insisting that the U.N.
-backed Government of National Accord was the only way forward in Libya.
Many Libyans saw the U.N.
process as a top-down agreement forced on them. With no signs of the U.N.
incorporating this new deal into its peace process, U.N.
special envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler
, said the agreement was a good first step and insisted that the U.N.
-backed Libyan Political Agreement represents the only means of uniting the country and requires a “rapid endorsement” by both sides.
Institutions influencing the GNA
This article needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (September 2020)
House of Representatives
Haftar has been steadily gaining power in Libya since the launch of his successful military campaign against jihadist and Islamist groups in Libya in 2014 and his successful seizure of four vital oil export terminals from the Petroleum Facilities Guard in Eastern Libya which have increased the country's oil production to its highest level in years.
Unlike his opponents in the GNA who have been steadily losing legitimacy, Haftar
maintains a large and growing influence over the country, especially in the East.
With the House of Representatives
having withdrawn its recognition of the GNA, some security experts argue that if any potential changes to the Libyan Political Agreement do not meet Haftar's
demands, it is unlikely that the unification process will succeed.
growing legitimacy in the country, the international community has indeed recognized that his participation is essential in establishing a viable government in Libya with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
having urged for his inclusion in any government in the future.
General National Congress
When elected in 2012 to replace the National Transitional Council
, the GNC
was made up of a majority of moderate officials with only the President, Nouri Abusahmain
, and a few other officials representing Islamist parties. Many factions of the GNC
later broke away from the group as they grew concerned with the government's actions especially as violence, caused by Islamist militias supported by leaders of the group, began to escalate. Currently, the GNC
is backed by hardline Islamist groups and militias in Tripoli
, with little foreign support.
Leader of the Libyan National Army
refusal to negotiate with GNA Prime Minister al-Sarraj
in February 2017 has disappointed the Egyptian government, who has supported his role of governing Libya.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
has been strongly pushing for a settlement between the Libyan House of Representatives
and the GNA in order to end the civil war and contain the spread of the Islamist and jihadist movement it has created. Egypt has expressed concerns that a continuation of the conflict will give Islamist groups in Libya, such as the Muslim Brotherhood
, greater influence in the country. Apart from supplying Tobruk's government with significant arms deals, for Egypt, having the Eastern part of Libya under the role of a leader friendly to the country, in this case Haftar
, would create a buffer zone with ISIS and any opposition to Sisi's government in Cairo
Despite being opposed to the move by NATO
to topple ex-leader Muammar Gaddafi
did not block the UN resolution calling for an intervention in Libya in 2011. Since then, Russia has frequently used Libya as "an example of Western failures in the Middle East." The Russian government has affirmed that it intends to play a role in restoring a strong regime in the country.
Days ahead of al-Sarraj's
visit to Russia in March 2017, Putin's
spokesman said, “Russia is interested in Libya finally becoming a working state after this barbaric intervention that was conducted from outside, that led to catastrophic consequences from the point of view of the Libyan state and the future of the Libyan people. That is why we are interested in the swift development of a durable power in Libya that can begin the process of restoring and recreating the state.”
Russia has also recently met with al-Sarraj's
rival factions where earlier last year, Haftar
also paid a visit to Russia.
The United States
, together with the European Union
was one of the first parties to recognize and welcome the GNA as Libya's new unity government. At the December 24, 2015 United Nations Security Council
meeting, Ambassador Samantha Power
said that "The United States urges all Libyans to unite behind the Libyan Political Agreement, and to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the formation of the GNA by working together toward peace, stability, and the rule of law.”
The U.S. also issued a joint statement with the EU that described the new body as the “only legitimate government in Libya”.
This came before an admission by former U.S. President Barack Obama
in April 2016 that the “worst mistake” of his presidency was the failure to prepare for an aftermath of Gaddafi's overthrow.
Since 2015, the U.S. has carried out three air strikes in Libya in what it called a sustained air campaign that would help local anti-Islamic State forces fight the group.
While there were plans in early 2016 to send 6,000 troops from a number of NATO
countries, such as France
and the United Kingdom
, to train these local troops in fighting IS-affiliated groups, the GNA was reluctant to allow such a presence.
In December 2016, U.S. Special Envoy to Libya, Jonathan Winer, told Congress that the United States remained at the forefront of efforts to “broaden support” for the GNA.
On 27 June 2020, the GNA called for the United States and the European Union to impose sanctions over the activities of Russian mercenaries such as the Wagner Group
and other foreign actors after they force their way into the Sharara oilfield
The Greek, Egyptian, United Arab Emirates, French, German, Syrian, and well as wider European governments, as well as members of the Libyan public voiced strong opposition
to the Turkish intervention resulting in the expulsion of diplomats
belonging to the GNA over Turkish-GNA agreements involving sovereign changes to maritime borders stating that they are illegal.
Furthermore, on 12 December 2019, the European Council stressed(2) that the Turkey-Libya memorandum of understanding on the delimitation of maritime jurisdictions in the Mediterranean Sea infringes upon the sovereign rights of third States, does not comply with the Law of the Sea and cannot produce any legal consequences for third States. The European Council also reconfirmed the European Union’s position on Turkey’s illegal drilling activities in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.
— Vice-President of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell European Union Minister for Foreign Affairs
According to international law, Libyan political agreement, and the elected House of Representatives / Parliament, the Government of National Accord is an interim / transitional government that is not within responsible and legal capability to agree to agreements involving sovereign changes to territory, as well as accept any weapons sales. However Turkey has continuously bypassed & disregarded UN arms sanctions,
Arms sales, and Signed Military agreements with disregard for international law, as well as Libyan law arms sale and transfer sanctions,
and counter-agreeing with Memorandums of Understanding with the opposing eastern Tobruk parliament, raising serious tensions in the region and ultimately resulting in a near military confrontation between the Greek, Egyptian Navy and the Turkish Navy over the "Mavi Vatan", RV MTA Oruç Reis
maritime research vessel and Aegean dispute
incident resulting in a Greek navy ship ramming a Turkish navy military ship
and calls for an international effort to calm tensions resulting in the Libyan civil war 2019-2020 ceasefire efforts
Turkey has sent ~5,000 to 15,000 Syrian Mercenaries to 'bolster' the Government of National accord
to occupy and maintain a presence in major bases in the Tripoli region, including: Al-Yarmouk base, Sidi Bilal base, Mitiga airport, Tripoli naval base, Al Watiya Airbase, and more.
Qatar has provided support for the GNA, as well as the GNC and its very controversial members such as Sadiq Al Ghariani since the beginning of the First Libyan Civil War
in the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi
with weapons, funds, special forces and agreements to occupy bases, in its continuous visits by special forces Brigadier General Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Fetais al-Marri
and 'signing military agreements' with so called 'Defense Minister'
of the GNA. In Alliance with Turkey, Qatar has agreed to establish a base in North Africa ( Libya ) by providing weapons, arms and funds in support for the Government of National Accord according to their 'Defense agreements'. Saudi Arabia wants Hamad Bin Fattis, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain for terrorism, issued in a list of 59 individuals and 12 entities
United Arab Emirates
The UAE provided aerial support in the Libyan Civil War in support of The House of representatives of Tobruk and parliament, of which General Haftar's Libyan National Army fought in the 2019–20 Western Libya campaign
conflict with the GNA.
Al-Jazeera reported that the UAE "has, by some estimates, carried out as many as 850 strikes in support of the Libyan national army led by Haftar since operation launched on Tripoli [in 2019]."
Algeria and Tunisia
Unlike other regional powers, Algeria
have not built a network of proxies in Libya but have instead been vocal supporters of reconciliation and a political solution while closely coordinating with each other to contain the spillover from the Islamic State's
presence in Libya.
In October 2014, the Islamic Youth Shura Council (IYSC) declared that Derna, a small town on the northeastern coast and some 720 km (450 miles) from Tripoli, had become the first Libyan town to join the global caliphate.
In late 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
recognised the presence of ISIS
in Libya, declaring three wilayats
: Barqa (eastern Libya), with Derna as its base; Tarablus (Tripoli
), with Sirte
as its base; and Fezzan
As another rival to the GNA and made up of foreign fighters, defectors from local jihadi groups and local returnees from Syria, the Islamic State
was driven from its first headquarters in Derna in 2015 by anti-Haftar forces and began establishing a new base in Sirte
became the Islamic State's
stronghold in Libya until May 2016 when a coalition of Misrata-dominated forces loyal to the GNA known as Bunyan al-Marsous (BAM) declared war on the Islamic State
On April 2, 2016, these Misrata-based militias had declared their loyalty to the GNA in order to legitimize themselves as a military force fighting for the country's internationally backed government. The BAM operation in May was accompanied by over 400 U.S. air strikes over a six-month period.
On December 6, 2016, the Libyan National Army
aligned with the GNA to capture Sirte
with victory being declared that month. While the Islamic State
, it is believed that many of its fighters remain in Libya operating sleeper cells in Tripoli
and other cities and towns across the country.
U.S. Special Envoy to Libya, Jonathan Winer, warned the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs
on November 30, 2016 that the Islamic State
could cause more trouble in Libya. “If Libyans choose to fight each other instead of uniting, they risk increasing the probability that ISIL and other violent extremists in its mould will be back," he said.
Structure and Ministers
The Government of National Accord under the Libyan Political Agreement comprises a Cabinet of Ministers and a Presidential Council
. The Presidential Council
, made up of nine members and chaired by the Prime Minister, acts collectively as head of state and supreme commander of the armed forces, appointing thus the country's military leadership. According to the agreement, the Presidential Council
presides over the Cabinet of Ministers, also based in Tripoli, and also appoints its members.
The Cabinet of the Government of National Accord, which acts as the government's executive branch, has 17 ministers and is led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj
and two Deputy Prime Ministers, Ahmed Maiteeq
and Musa Al-Koni
. Ministers in the cabinet need to be unanimously approved by the Prime Minister and his deputies and ministers can likewise only be removed with a unanimous decision of the Prime Minister and his deputies.
The Government of National Accord is granted a one-year term from the date the Libyan House of Representatives
grants it a vote of confidence, but this term will be automatically extended an additional year if a new constitution is not completed and implemented during the term. The GNA can also be dissolved by a vote of no confidence from the Libyan House of Representatives
, or by the death, vacancy, or resignation of the Prime Minister.
The following ministers were proposed in January 2016:
Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj
was born into a prominent local family, whose father, Mustafa Sarraj was also involved in politics and described by Al-Jazeera as "one of the founders of the modern state of Libya after its independence from Italy".
After Gaddafi's fall in 2011, Fayez al-Sarraj
became a member of the National Dialogue Commission, which worked to establish national consensus and unity in Libya. His nomination as Prime Minister was seen as a compromise between the rival parties as he is not affiliated to any party involved in the power struggle.
Deputy Prime Minister, Ahmed Maiteeq
, served as Prime Minister for a short time and in the GNA represents the city of Misrata
, which is the biggest political and military backer of the GNA. Misrata's militias were crucial in Gaddafi's downfall and have taken the lead in the fight against ISIS in Sirte.
Misrata's militias and the Libyan National Army
are the two most relevant military forces in the country.
Calls for a Possible Renegotiation of the Libyan Political Agreement
On December 6, 2016, the UN special envoy to Libya Martin Kobler
hinted before the United Nations Security Council
meeting at the possibility of renegotiating the Libyan Political Agreement, which he said is “not set in stone”. He later said that the agreement “stands firm, but stuck”.
Western powers have become increasingly concerned that if infighting between the different political factions continues and the GNA is not recognized soon by the GNC
, further turmoil will evolve and allow the Islamic State
and other Islamist groups to gain further territory in the country.
A report published by the International Crisis Group
in November 2016 has said that the Libyan Political Agreement has failed to calm the turbulence and warned that the country may descend into a "free-fall" if the country's peace process is not "reset".
“The accord’s roadmap, the idea that a caretaker government accommodating the two parliaments and their allies could establish a new political order and reintegrate militias, can no longer be implemented without change," said the report.
Since its inception, the GNA has also been criticized domestically for focusing little on national reconciliation and improving the lives of the population and instead focusing on maintaining broad international support.
Critics pushing for a negotiation of the Libyan Political Agreement are calling for changes in the setup of the GNA itself and the future role of Haftar
in the government. Haftar's
role in the new government remains one of the most contentious points in the Agreement. Haftar
enjoys wide public support for successfully combating Islamists in eastern Libya, liberating four key oil ports from Islamist control and bringing relative security to Benghazi. Haftar
supporters argue that dismissing him from any future government would not bring peace to the country while bringing him into the government can help the GNA seek a compromise with the Libyan House of Representatives
that backs him.
Since its December 2015 inception, the GNA has made little progress in unifying the country and has proved ineffective in areas such as national security, the economy, and, most importantly, Libya's overall governance.
A number of media outlets have expressed doubt that the GNA will ever be able to assert itself as a true authority figure and garner support from its citizens, as various militias continue to hold vast control in Libya.
, Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya
(UNSMIL) and one of the organizers of the GNA, publicly challenged the government via Twitter
just months after its installment.
In June 2016, Kobler tweeted "Worried about the continued power cuts in large parts of tripoli. Urge #Gna to tackle energy supply for the population."
In February 2017, Kobler acknowledged the GNA's shortcomings and said there was a growing consensus to reconfigure the Presidential Council.
In a November 2016 piece titled "A Western-backed deal to salvage Libya is falling apart", The Economist
wrote, "The latest peace accord has merely reconfigured the conflict, not solved it." Specifically, it noted that:
"The GNA, for its part, has done little to win over the public. Services are sporadic at best, while the economy is teetering […] Prices have soared. The government is months behind on paying salaries."
Additionally, the GNA received a no confidence vote from the House of Representatives based in Tobruk. Out of 101 total deputies, only one person voted in favor of GNA.
The government and General Haftar – backed by Parliament – have feuded since GNA's inception, creating an even more unstable political arena since Gaddafi's fall.
On 23 August, protests erupted in the capital city of Tripoli, where hundreds protested the Government of National Accord for living conditions and corruption within the Government.
In January 2017, Deputy Prime Minister of GNA, Musa al-Koni, formally resigned, stating the government had "failed to tackle urgent problems arising from years of conflict and political disarray", Reuters reported. Specifically, al-Koni stated:
"I announce my resignation due to the failure of the Presidential Council, because it holds responsibility for the killing, kidnapping, and rape that happened over the past year."
In an August 2017 article, The National pointed out that nine of the original presidency members have subsequently quit since GNA took power, including the ministers for justice, reconciliation and finance.
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