Libya's Tripoli government to step down

image copyrightReuters
image captionSecurity has disintegrated in Libya since the removal of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011

One of two rival governments in Libya has announced that it is stepping down, a justice ministry statement has said.

The announcement comes less than a week after the arrival in Tripoli of a UN-backed national unity government.

The Tripoli-based administration said it was standing down to prevent further bloodshed.

Since 2014 Libya has had two competing administrations, the one in Tripoli backed by powerful militias and the other in the eastern city of Tobruk.

The Tobruk-based administration, formed by the House of Representatives, still opposes the UN-backed body.

"We inform you that we are stopping our work as an executive power, as the presidency and ministers of the government," said the statement by the self-declared National Salvation government.

This authority was set up by the former parliament, the General National Congress (GNC).

image copyrightAP
image captionUnity government PM Fayez Sarraj and his colleagues arrived at a naval base in Tripoli last week
image copyrightAFP
image captionIt is hoped the UN-backed national unity government will restore stability in war-ravaged Libya

The UN-brokered unity government arrived in Tripoli last week and is now operating from the city's naval base as it strives to restore peace in a country ravaged by factional conflict.

Western countries want the unity government to unite as many factions in Libya as possible against an increasingly powerful affiliate of the group known as Islamic State.

But it is not clear how the new administration, led by the Presidency Council, will be able to assert its authority given the opposition it will inevitably face elsewhere in the country.

Some rival lawmakers in December signed up to the United Nations agreement to form a unity administration, but the deal has not yet been backed by all the country's many militia brigades that formed after the uprising.

The deal saw the formation of a nine-member Presidency Council, which includes the unity Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj.

The UN says it is considering lifting sanctions on Libya's estimated $67bn (£46.8bn) sovereign wealth fund if the government can regain control of the country.

Analysis: Rana Jawad, BBC North Africa correspondent

The decision of one of Libya's two rival governments to dissolve itself a week after the UN-backed Presidency Council arrived in Tripoli does not mean the parliament there has ceded power - in fact it is split over the UN-backed deal.

But it does draw a line under one of three rival authorities that have technically existed in recent weeks.

The government led by Abdullah al-Thinni in Tobruk remains in place but is also split over the UN-backed agreement which was signed in December by members of both rival parliaments.

The Tobruk government is backed by what is still the internationally recognised parliament and Libya's only legislative body under a UN-backed agreement.

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