UN works to ensure Libya unity gov't security in Tripoli

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Tripoli (AFP) - UN envoy Martin Kobler said on Sunday his team is in contact with security officials in Tripoli to ensure that Libya's new unity government can operate safely from the capital.

"The question... is how does the government go into Tripoli, and this is a question that we are negotiating with security actors on the ground," he told AFP in a telephone interview from Tunis, where his United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has been relocated.

"We hope to have an agreement with everybody -- the regular army, the regular police but also militias -- so that the government can go back, and of course UNSMIL has to go back to Tripoli also," Kobler said.

The German diplomat said that UNSMIL's military adviser, General Paolo Serra of Italy, was in charge of the negotiations.

Rival Libyan politicians signed a deal Thursday in the Moroccan resort of Skhirat to form a unity government despite opposition on both sides.

Kobler told AFP that the UN Security Council would vote next week on a resolution to recognise the new government as "the sole legitimate authority" in Libya.

Around 80 of 188 lawmakers from Libya's internationally recognised parliament and 50 of 136 members of the rival Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC) signed the deal, participants said.

It calls for a 17-member government, headed by businessman Fayez el-Sarraj as premier, based in the Libyan capital. A presidential council would also serve for a transitional period of two years until legislative elections.

Libya has had rival administrations since August 2014, when an Islamist-backed militia alliance overran Tripoli, forcing the government to take refuge in the east.

The country has been gripped by chaos and security problems since its 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with a multitude of armed factions battling for territory and control of its oil wealth.

None of Libya's militias -- including the Fajr Libya alliance which controls Tripoli -- has announced its position on the Skhirat agreement.

But Kobler remained upbeat.

"The doors are wide open. There are encouraging signs that there is more and more support for the Libyan political agreement," he said.

"Now we have to leave the conference room and we have to work on the ground and implement it on the ground."

- 'Afraid of Daesh expansion' -

With the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group taking advantage of the chaos in Libya to gain ground, Kobler said it was in the common interest for Libya to rally behind a unity government.

"Everybody is afraid of the Daesh expansion," he said, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

"It's not only expanding to Ras Lanuf and Ajdabiya (in eastern Libya), it is expanding also to the south and this is of a big worry also for neighbouring states," said the UN envoy.

"It's the Libyans who have to fight Daesh here and that's why it's important to have a government in place," he said.

"I encourage everybody to join the Libyan political agreement to really limit and contain the influence of Daesh."

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