Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj announced late Monday the beginning of a Cabinet reshuffle amid protests in the capital. 

Al-Sarraj made the televised statement in conjunction with the outbreak of mass demonstrations in Tripoli against deteriorating living conditions and rampant corruption.  

“I may have to declare an emergency in order to form a government of crisis…Urgent ministerial reshuffles will be made away from the consent [of some groups] and quotas,” he said. 

“I will not allow [our] legitimacy to fall and the entry of Libya into a dark tunnel,” he added, acknowledging his responsibility.

However, he went on to say that “we do not have control of all the homeland’s soil.”

Al-Sarraj insisted on calling for presidential and parliamentary elections in March, saying “the only political option to save the homeland is to reproduce the powers through elections.”

The premier stressed that there are some parties that do not wish to hold elections for their own interests, “but the elections will end a lot of the struggle over power in Libya.”

On Friday, the Presidential Council of the internationally recognized Libyan government and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, which supports warlord Khalifa Haftar, agreed to an immediate ceasefire.

Their two statements met on common points, most notably the ceasefire and the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections.

The agreement was widely welcomed by the international community and particularly Arab countries while Haftar’s militia rejected it.

Al-Sarraj declared his readiness to implement any agreement that meets the acceptance and consensus of all Libyan actors and called on Libyan protesters not to be dragged into the calls for sabotage over the deterioration of living conditions, saying “I have ordered all state agencies to protect the peaceful demonstrators.”

He stressed that there are gunmen infiltrating the peaceful protests and they carried out acts of sabotage and riots in order to bring down the prestige of the Libyan state.

Al-Sarraj also called for the resumption and export of oil and stopping the policies of starvation against the Libyan people.

He thanked the state of Turkey, saying “I stood with the Libyans at a time when many abandoned us.”

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The Government of National Accord (GNA) was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to a military offensive by forces loyal to Haftar.  

The UN recognizes the government headed by Premier Fayez al-Sarraj as the country’s legitimate authority as Tripoli has battled Haftar’s militias since April 2019 in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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