Libyan presidential council member resigns, citing failure

AP News
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Posted: Jan 02, 2017 3:55 PM

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — A prominent member of the presidential council of Libya's U.N.-backed government in Tripoli resigned on Monday, a major blow to the fledgling body attempting to assert authority over the fractured North African nation.

Citing the inability of the government to rule the country, Musa al-Koni's announcement was the first such resignation by one of the nine members of the council, formed in early 2016.

"We failed to resolve the political crisis," he told reporters at a televised press conference in the capital, Tripoli. "We failed to solve citizens' everyday problems, and the problems have increased since we entered the country and unsolved problems have accumulated."

Al-Koni, a deputy prime minister from southern Libya, leaves the council with internal conflict on the rise in Libya, even as its factions have managed to drive out most of the Islamic State militants who had been plaguing it in the central coastal city of Sirte, which had been its last bastion in Libya.

Last week, the deputy head of the presidential council, Fathi Al-Mijabri, issued a decree to appoint one of his loyal supporters as the head of the intelligence services, stoking the ire of other members who called his move illegal.

The bickering comes just after the central bank approved a $26 billion annual state budget for the country.

The U.N.-brokered presidential council was created as an attempt to establish a unity government to end the chaos that has plagued Libya since the ouster and killing of longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi in a 2011 uprising. Instead, Libya remains divided between east and west, with no effective government and rival factions and militias.

The presidential council, headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, has little power despite it being Libya's internationally recognized government.

The parliament in Libya's eastern city of Tobruk has refused to endorse the U.N. peace deal because it would give the council control over the army, effectively squeezing out Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter who commands the Libyan National Army and who dominates the east.