On March 23rd, 2021, the Government of National Unity (GNU) was officially handed over power and all authorities in the eastern region by the Interim Government of Abdullah Al-Thani in Benghazi.
The deputy prime minister of the GNU, Hussein Al-Gotrani, announced after receiving control over the authorities in eastern Libya that division had ended and the GNU would be serving all Libyans across the country. “The period of division is over,” Gotrani was quoted by local media as saying. “The Government of National Unity is at the service of all Libyans, whatever their region.”
Al-Gotrani arrived in Benghazi on Tuesday with a delegation from the GNU to attend the handover ceremony in the presence of Al-Thani Government’s ministers. The delegation included the ministers of interior, planning, finance, youth, education, higher education, technical education and housing, building, and agriculture.
After years of conflict, the Dbeibeh government took power on March 10th. Prior to that, there was an internationally recognized government in the capital, Tripoli, and another in the east headed by Al-Thani.
On March 16th, the head of the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord, Fayez Al-Sarraj, handed power over to Dbeibeh at the GNA’s headquarters in Tripoli.
The move is seen as an important step to bring peace to the country. The lack of a proper handover among legislators in 2014 was the main factor in the split of Libya’s institutions.
On February 5th, the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) under the auspices of the United Nations, elected a unified executive authority, which includes the Dbeibeh government and a presidential council headed by Mohammed Al-Menfi. They have been charged with leading Libya to parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for December 24th.
On the same day, the Libyan PM, Abdul-Hamid Dbeibah, met with the Chairman of the High National Elections Commission, Emad Al-Sayeh, and discussed the preparations for December 24th elections, as per the UN-brokered Libyan Political Dialogue Forum.
The electoral commission said in a statement that the general elections’ preparations in terms of logistics and technical issues will be carried out as per international standards. Also, Dbeibah reiterated readiness to support the electoral commission and urged the Chairman to outline the requirements for the upcoming milestone in Libya so the Government of National Unity could provide them.
Open dialogue with France, a step towards international support for the new Libyan leadership
During his official visit to France, the Head of the Libyan Presidential Council, Mohammed Al-Menfi, has agreed with the French President, Emmanuel Macron, to reopen the French embassy in Tripoli on March 29th. The announcement came in the press conference between Al-Menfi and Macron in Paris, where the latter arrived on March 23rd, in the afternoon, along with his deputy Mossa Al-Koni, to discuss support for the Government of National Unity by France as Libya heads to elections. Al-Menfi’s visit to France is the first he makes after he has assumed office as the Head of the Libyan Presidential Council.
Al-Menfi thanked France for what he said was the “support for Libya’s stability”, adding that the first step of such support would be reopening the French embassy in Libya.
Macron said France would be working with international partners to ensure the defense of Libyan sovereignty, adding that “Russian and Turkish forces should leave Libya as soon as possible”. However, it is worth mentioning that Turkey signed in November 2019 MoUs with the then Government of National Accord that included defense training and military cooperation between the two countries, while Khalifa Haftar enlisted the assistance of the Russian Wagner Group to provide his forces with manpower and weapons in his war on Tripoli at the time.
On the other hand, Macron, a supporter of Haftar’s war endeavors and his country’s military, has more than once been involved in UN reports as an accomplice of Haftar’s military operations, the last of which was selling Haftar US Javelin missiles to use in his war on Tripoli back in 2019, said Paris “aims to maintain the ceasefire agreement in Libya”. He added that France would work with Libya to secure the borders with the help of neighboring countries in order to diminish operations of smuggling, human trafficking, illegal immigration, and the influx of terrorists to the country.