EU sanctions 3 top Libyans for blocking UN-backed government

AP News
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Posted: Apr 01, 2016 7:52 AM
EU sanctions 3 top Libyans for blocking UN-backed government

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has slapped sanctions on three Libyan officials accused of hindering the new U.N.-brokered unity government there from beginning its work.

The EU identified the three in its official journal on Friday as Agilah Saleh, parliament head in the eastern city of Tobruk, Khalifa Ghweil, head of the so-called National Salvation Government and Nuri Abu Sahmain, who leads the outdated General National Congress.

In a statement, the EU said the men, who face travel bans and asset freezes, have been "obstructing the implementation" of last December's Libyan political agreement and the formation of the so-called Government of National Accord.

It added that the EU "remains concerned about the situation in Libya, and in particular about acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of the country, and that impede or undermine the successful completion of Libya's political transition."

U.N.-brokered talks to get a unity government up and running have been bogged down. Libya has been split between rival governments since 2014, a consequence of the chaos that engulfed the country after a 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

One is an Islamist-backed government in Tripoli, the other an internationally recognized leadership based in the east.

Amid a power struggle and a security vacuum, the Islamic State group has gained a foothold in Libya. It's taken over the central city of Sirte and carried deadly attacks across the country.

The hope of the international community is that an operational unity government could eventually seek military help against the extremists. The EU also wants a stable government to help stop the flow of migrants into Europe.