TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya’s U.N.-backed unity government will move to Tripoli from Tunis “within a few days”, its prime minister said in a television interview broadcast on Thursday.
Fayez Seraj said a security plan agreed with police and military forces in Tripoli, with some armed groups, and with the United Nations, would allow the Presidential Council and the government it nominated to transfer to the Libyan capital.
The unity government was named under a plan to end the political chaos and conflict that has beset Libya since the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi five years ago.
Since 2014, the country has had two rival parliaments and governments, one based in Tripoli and one in the east.
“We, the government of national accord, will be in the capital Tripoli soon ... within a few days,” Seraj told Jordan-based Libya HD channel in a pre-recorded interview.
“The armed groups will remain in their camps until an agreement is found with them about whether their members will be integrated and young people absorbed within certain programmes according the security plan,” he said.
The unity government has faced opposition from hardliners on both sides of Libya’s political divide, and the prime minister of the government based in Tripoli this week warned the unity government not to move there.
It remains unclear whether some of the many armed groups present in the capital will fight to prevent the unity government from operating there.
The eastern parliament, which received international recognition, has repeatedly failed to vote to approve the unity government, though a majority of its members signed a statement of support last month.
Western powers have been pushing hard for the new government to start work, hoping that it will be able to tackle an expanding threat from Islamic State, both by drawing together Libyan armed factions, and by requesting international help.
Seraj, who heads both the Presidential Council and the unity government, said he hoped the eastern parliament would still move to endorse them but they could wait no longer.
The council saw a need to take advantage of the “international momentum” around Libya, though it was up to Libyans to determine their needs.
“If the international community provides assistance I do not think the Libyans would reject that, but within the rules and standards, and according to what Libyans want,” he said.
“Direct intervention is unacceptable, and we have sent that message clearly.”
Islamic State has used the security vacuum in Libya to establish a foothold in the North African country, taking control of the city of Sirte and staging attacks on civilian and military targets, and against oil facilities.
“Libyans must come together and unite to confront the danger of Daesh (Islamic State),” Seraj said.
He also noted some of the challenges his government would face, such as reintegrating in parallel versions of the National Oil Corporation and the central bank, and tackling a rapidly deteriorating financial situation.
“The government is coming to serve the citizen,” he said. “Our slogan is reconciliation and reconstruction among Libyans.”
Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Louise Ireland and Bernard Orr