US puts Libyan speaker on sanctions blacklist

Washington (AFP) –


The United States placed the speaker of Libya's internationally-recognized parliament Aguila Saleh on its sanctions blacklist Friday, saying he has blocked attempts to strengthen the new UN-backed unity government.

Formed under a power-sharing deal agreed by some Libyan lawmakers, the UN-sponsored Government of National Accord (GNA) has been working to assert its authority but has yet to receive the official endorsement of the recognized parliament.

"Today's action emphasizes the US government's commitment to the Libyan Political Agreement, which created the GNA on December 17, 2015, and demonstrates that the US government will not tolerate actions by individuals who undermine the political transition in Libya," the US Treasury said in a statement.

The move comes after the European Union designated Saleh for sanctions on April 1.

The US action means that any of the politician's property and interests in the United States are blocked, and prohibits Americans from doing business with him.

The Treasury said Saleh repeatedly stymied votes in the Libyan House of Representatives that are necessary to solidify the political agreement that established the GNA.

The agreement finally went through after months of delay in January, but since then, the Treasury said, Saleh has blocked votes on the unity cabinet.

Saleh "is responsible for stalling political progress in Libya," said John Smith, acting director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

"Today's action sends a clear message that the US government will continue to target those who undermine the peace, security, and stability of Libya," he said.