Libyan reunification efforts not advancing in parallel
The eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) released a statement on 27 April claiming that it has no relations with the newly established Government of National Unity (GNU). The LNA stated that the new government was welcome to hold meetings in areas under the LNA's control in eastern Libya on previous coordination with its own Ministry of Interior in Benghazi, but it must not be accompanied by western Libyan security forces.
The LNA statement comes after a GNU delegation led by Prime Minister Abdul Dabaiba was prevented on 25 April from landing at Benghazi Benina airport and forced to return to Tripoli. According to Libyan media, the LNA prevented the visit due to the presence of members of Tripoli and Misratan armed groups in the delegation.
The statement made clear that the LNA will not allow western or rival security forces into its areas of control, highlighting how the process to unify the Libyan security sector is not advancing in parallel with the political attempt to reunify national political and economic institutions.
As previously assessed by IHS Markit, the LNA rhetoric against the unity government is likely to perpetuate factionalism and undermine ongoing GNU attempts to expand its authority and mandate to eastern Libya. It also highlights the LNA aspiration to represent the core of a future reunified Libyan army, something that Tripolitania militias are likely to resist.
The re-organization of the LNA senior leadership under a new official and the announcement by current LNA commander Khalifa Haftar to run for the December presidential election over the next few months would be key indicators pointing to growing LNA attempts to perpetuate the eastern-western divide, increasing the likelihood of postponement of the general election, which would jeopardize the UN-led reunification process.