A military force supported by the United Nations and tasked with the protection of Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), last night fled its positions in Tripoli ahead of a raid by a former ally.
Presidential Guard units which are usually seen stationed outside the Prime Minister’s offices in Tripoli’s Sikkah Road and the Airport Road last night have suddenly disappeared leaving their positions there to be filled by units of ‘Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade’, a powerful Tripoli-based militia nominally operating under GNA’s interior ministry.
A source familiar with the matter has confirmed to this website that TRB’s move came in response to the Auditor General’s report which has revealed that both the Presidential Guard (PG) and GNA’s ‘Security Arrangements Committee’ have received over LD70 million from the public budget of 2017. According to the same source, this revelation seems to have angered the commander of TRB’s First Battalion “who in the past has been bombarded by requests for support by commanders of both forces who kept lying to him by complaining from lack of financial support from the GNA”. Documents attributed to Zintan’s Najmi Nakoua, PG’s commander, were leaked online last night said to have been found in his office after it was stormed by TRB members.
TRB’s move couldn't have come at a worse time for the GNA which earlier this week found itself neck-deep in corruption allegations levelled against its members by Libya’s Auditor General. Not only has the move showed the PG as a weak organization that exists only on paper, but also dealt a huge blow to efforts by the UN and some of GNA partners, particularly Italy, who have invested in the creation of the PG hoping it would replace Tripoli militias and act as a state agency.
It remains unclear, however, whether TRB’s hostility toward the PG is permanent or merely a temporary dispute between two close allies. The coming days should offer more clarity. That said, the general situation in Libya’s capital city remains tense over rumours that militias from Misrata, Zintan and Gaddafi loyalists are separately plotting offensives against the GNA in Tripoli. The Auditor General’s report has fuelled widespread anger against the GNA prompting calls for anti-GNA demonstrations. If the latter materialized it could open the door for those plotting to bring down the GNA.