Libya’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj plans to announce his resignation soon but will stay on in a caretaker capacity through negotiations for a new government in Geneva next month, according to officials familiar with his thinking.
With Turkey’s help, the internationally recognized premier, whose government controls only parts of western Libya, in June quashed a yearlong offensive on the capital by eastern commander Khalifa Haftar. But Tripoli has since descended into political infighting, and Sarraj has also faced pressure from a protest movement against corruption and poor services.
The move is expected to be welcomed by Haftar’s regional backers, including Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, while facilitating the talks to unite the conflict-riven North African nation that sits atop the continent’s largest oil reserves.
Haftar himself has increasingly given way politically to Aguileh Salah, the head of parliament who’s proposed a political initiative to unify the country’s institutions and is now leading political talks for the eastern camp, Arab and Western diplomats said.
Four officials said Sarraj and his aides have discussed his plans with Libyan and international partners. He’s expected to make his announcement by the end of the week, two officials said. A spokesman for Sarraj declined to comment on the prime minister’s plans.
The country has been divided since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 ousted the veteran leader Muammar al-Qaddafi, which unleashed successive civil wars. The latest conflict, which started in April 2019 with Haftar’s march on Tripoli, drew in military intervention by Turkey, the UAE and Russian mercenaries. Both sides agreed to a cease-fire.
In talks held in Switzerland earlier this month, the rivals agreed to hold elections within 18 months and restructure the government. The meetings also boosted negotiations to restart oil production, which Haftar had shut down in January. The U.S. embassy said earlier this week that the commander had agreed to open the fields by Sept. 12, but the deadline passed without a decision.