BENGHAZI, Libya: Libya’s eastern Parliament voted Tuesday to withdraw its support for a United Nations peace deal and Government of National Accord, stoking concerns that recent violence in the fractured country could escalate.
Abdullah Ablaihig, spokesman for the Tobruk-based, internationally recognized House of Representatives, said the body voted to annul its previous acceptance of a presidential council and the U.N.-backed government currently led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli.
The decision comes as Libya’s rival power centers are sliding closer to open conflict, with breakaway militias backed by western Libyan factions seizing oil terminals from the east’s strongman general, whose forces have vowed to take them back.
The Tobruk body called on all Libyan parties to condemn militias that occupied the two key terminals in what it described as “terrorist attacks,” saying it was suspending its participation in peace talks until they did so. The militias, which oppose the Parliament, say they intend to take the eastern city of Benghazi and drive Gen. Khalifa Haftar from the area. Haftar’s army is allied to the Parliament, while the Tripoli government opposes him.
“The GNA unity government is not legitimate any more, as well as its presidential council and anything to do with this entity,” Ablaihig said, urging the international community to lift an embargo on weapons sales to the Libyan army under Haftar.
His forces have deployed more troops in preparation of a counterattack to drive out the militias, known as the Benghazi Defense Brigades, which are comprised of Islamist militants and former rebels recently defeated by Haftar’s forces in Benghazi,. They are also joined by militiamen from the western city of Misrata, and a day earlier announced their intentions from there.
Since the BDB attacked Friday, a front line has formed at the center of the Oil Crescent, between the ports of Ras Lanouf and Brega. The Libyan National Army still controls Brega as well as a fourth port, Zueitina, which lies to the northeast.
Libya descended into chaos with its 2011 civil war, which led to the current split.
Western ambassadors have condemned the escalation of violence and called for an immediate cease-fire. Egypt Tuesday condemned the seizing of the oil installations more singularly, saying that “elements linked to Al-Qaeda” were involved in the attack that it said posed “serious risks” for Libya.