Libya PM voices alarm at militias amid ceasefire

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


The head of Libya's UN-recognized government on Thursday urged armed militias to lay down their weapons, warning that they were risking a fragile ceasefire in the war-battered nation.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, welcomed commitments by political leaders in eastern Libya to stop violence and resume oil production.

"However, we have not yet seen cooperation from armed groups and the aggressive militias," he said in a video address to the annual UN summit.

"In fact, we have only seen hostile remarks from their spokesmen and violations by their forces," he said.

"Therefore we would hold them responsible for any military confrontations and any resulting casualties and destruction."

The Government of National Accord, which enjoys the strong backing of Turkey, earlier this year repelled a deadly offensive on Tripoli by strongman Khalifa Haftar.

The Tripoli-based government and a parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk linked to Haftar agreed last month on a ceasefire and elections by March.

After recent talks between the two sides in Morocco, Sarraj said he was willing to step down as a new government comes together.

Haftar has enjoyed support from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Russia, which according to US officials has sent in mercenaries and a flood of weapons.

Libya has been in chaos since 2011 when a Western-backed uprising toppled dictator Moamer al-Kadhafi.

Sarraj asked the United Nations for support in organizing the upcoming vote.

"Libyans have waited too long for these elections, which will end the legitimacy crisis," he said.