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Libya Presidency Denies Armed Groups Attacked Hotel Where it Meets

Libya Presidency Denies Armed Groups Attacked Hotel Where it Meets

Saturday, 8 May, 2021 - 08:45
Libyan Foreign Minister, Najla al-Manqoush. (Reuters)

A senior official at Libya's new Presidential Council denied on Saturday that groups who entered a hotel where the body meets had been armed or used force, playing down an incident that had appeared to illustrate the risks facing the unity government.


Earlier, the Council's spokeswoman had said armed groups had stormed the Corinthia Hotel on Friday, though she also said nobody from the body had been in the building at the time.


"There was no kidnapping, gunfire, or an attack on me or the hotel," the head of the Presidential Council's office, Mohamed al-Mabrouk said in a social media video, adding that he had been in the hotel at the time of the incident.


Mabrouk said the head of the Presidential Council, which functions as Libya's head of state for now, would meet with the groups involved.


The Presidential Council was chosen through a United Nations-facilitated process that also selected a new Government of National Unity (GNU) that took office in March, replacing rival administrations in east and west.


Armed groups based in western Libya have voiced anger at the GNU Foreign Minister, Najla al-Manqoush.


Challenges

Head of the GNU Abdelhamid Dbeibeh has worked to win support from Libya's many rival factions, forming a large cabinet that includes an array of ideological and regional figures.


However, both the Presidential Council and GNU have faced internal criticism and challenges to their authority.


In eastern Libya, commander Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA) still hold sway nearly a year after their 14-month offensive to seize the capital collapsed.


In Tripoli, the armed groups that pushed Haftar back from the capital with Turkish support still control the streets.


Foreign mercenaries remain entrenched on both sides of the heavily fortified front line, despite international calls for the warring sides to pull them from the country.


Last week, Manqoush repeated the call for all foreign fighters to leave while standing next to visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.


Turkey says its military presence in Libya is different to that of other foreign forces because it was invited by the previous Government of National Accord (GNA) and it will not withdraw until others do.


Before Friday's incident, an operations room for the Tripoli armed groups said on social media that it had met to discuss "irresponsible statements" by Manqoush and later called on the GNU to formally reject Haftar.


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