- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 6, 2016

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) - The U.N. envoy to Libya said Wednesday that the Cabinet based in the North African country’s eastern region is not internationally recognized, remarks that were in response to criticism levelled the previous day by the premier of that government.

Martin Kobler stressed in an email to The Associated Press that the eastern-based premier, Abdullah al-Thinni, “is not the recognized prime minister of Libya.”

The email followed an AP interview with al-Thinni in which he claimed the United Nations was trying to impose an unworkable solution on Libya by setting up a unity government.

That unity government has started working in the capital, Tripoli, but without a vote of confidence from the eastern parliament.

Al-Thinni’s easter-based, interim government is recognized by the elected parliament, also seated in eastern Libya. Al-Thinni had served as defense minister after the ouster and killing of Libya’s longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

After Gadhafi’s downfall, Libya sunk into lawlessness and chaos, facing a myriad of militias vying for influence and an emerging Islamic State affiliate. Since 2014, the country has been split between two different parliaments, each with their own government.

The new, U.N.-brokered unity government established this year is trying to overcome those divisions.

In his email, Kobler also said that the U.N.-brokered government of Fayez Serraj is Libya’s internationally-recognized government and that according to a U.N. Security Council resolution, member states are instructed to cease dealing with any other parallel institutions in Libya.

In another development Wednesday, a fighter jet crashed in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi after carrying out airstrikes targeting Islamic militant positions. The pilot was killed.

According to an air force commander, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, it appeared that suspected Islamic militants shot down the plane. No group claimed responsibility.

Army units and local fighters loyal to the internationally-recognized parliament, under the command of Gen. Khalifa Hifter, have been battling Islamic militias in Benghazi over the past two years.

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