Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of Libya’s internationally-recognised government, has said he wants to quit by the end of October and hand over power to a new executive authority as efforts to find a political solution to the country’s years-long conflict gather pace.
In a brief televised speech on Wednesday, al-Sarraj said United Nations-brokered talks between the country’s rival factions have led to a “new preparatory phase” to unify Libyan institutions and prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections.
“I announce to all my sincere wish to cede my functions to the next administration before the end of October at the latest,” he declared from the capital, Tripoli.
Al-Sarraj is head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), while eastern Libya and much of the south is controlled by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).
Haftar’s LNA – which is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia – launched an offensive in April 2019 trying to capture Tripoli from al-Sarraj’s government. But the campaign collapsed in June when the Turkish-backed GNA forces gained the upper hand and drove the LNA from the outskirts of the capital and other western towns, with the front lines now solidified near the central city of Sirte.
Under heavy international pressure, delegates from the rival camps met earlier this month and agreed on a preliminary deal that aims to guide the country towards elections within 18 months and demilitarise Sirte.
The coastal ity, which is controlled by Haftar, is the gateway to Libya’s major oil fields and export terminals, also held by the 76-year-old.