Libyan House of Representatives Speaker Aguila Saleh on Saturday urged the international community to reject the legitimacy of the war-torn country’s UN-recognized government, which is pursuing closer military ties with Turkey.
Libya has been beset by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, with rival administrations in the east and the west vying for power.
In a reflection of the deep political divisions, the elected parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk is allied with military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is at war with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) recognized by the UN.
“In the coming days, the Libyan parliament will take action to ensure the withdrawal of international recognition of this government,” Saleh told reporters in an interview during a visit to Cyprus.
Saleh said he had asked Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicos Christodoulides to “convey a message to the European Union so that it withdraws its recognition of this government [the GNA]. It is time to form a new government supported by the Libyan people and parliament.”
Libya’s parliament has been weakened by the departure of several dozen anti-Haftar lawmakers for Tripoli.
ROW OVER RESOURCES
Saleh’s visit follows a rise in tensions between Turkey on the one hand, and EU members Greece and Cyprus on the other in a conflict over offshore hydrocarbon resources that has drawn in Libya.
Turkey last month signed a deal with the GNA in Tripoli in which the two parties lay claim to much of the Mediterranean Sea, conflicting with rival claims by Greece and Cyprus.
At the same time, Turkey is stepping up military aid to Tripoli, which is battling Haftar’s forces for control of the capital.
Saleh also met his Cypriot counterpart, Demetris Syllouris.
In a joint statement, they called the Turkey-GNA agreement a violation of international law, labeled Turkey’s plan to send troops to Libya “unacceptable” and said that Ankara was escalating regional tensions, the Cyprus News Agency reported.
They also discussed ways to counter Turkey’s two Libya agreements, which Cyprus strongly opposes.
One provides for a direct military intervention by Turkish forces in support of the GNA, a move Ankara has said might begin as early as next month.
The other sets a maritime boundary between Libya and Turkey, which has angered Greece and Cyprus as they step up plans to exploit offshore gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.
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