Sarraj, a businessman named prime minister-designate under a UN-brokered power-sharing deal in December, had arrived by sea earlier Wednesday with a naval escort along with several members of his cabinet.
Prime Minister Designate, Fayez al-Serraj arrives in Tripoli.
Establishment of the unity government, forged late previous year at UN-led talks in Morocco, could prompt the lifting of an global arms embargo and “nation building” support from Western nations.
The council is supposed to replace the two rival administrations, one in the Libyan capital of Tripoli and the other in the eastern city of Tobruk. He later made a brief statement saying the government would release a program in the coming days.
Western countries are considering military action against the jihadists in Libya but want a unity government to request help first.
“We were eager that there was no bloodshed in this process, and we’re committed to the terms of the political agreement that the Libyans agreed on and will expand the participants in it. We’ll begin this task in Tripoli by starting a new phase of dialogue and internal communications with our honourable people of all ideological tendencies”.
Since 2014 Libya has had two competing pairs of parliaments and governments, both backed by loose alliances of armed brigades.
Analysts say Sarraj’s immediate job is gaining control of Tripoli: “The big task is to gain a consensus and end the armed conflict”, said Abdul Rahman al-Ageli, a non-resident fellow of the Atlantic Council.
An indication of the complexities facing the new government came hours after it arrived, when gunfire broke out from a nearby base of another Misrata militia opposed to it.
Tripoli’s self-proclaimed government announced the state of emergency on Friday following reports about the entry of four members of the presidential council to Tripoli.
In a further sign of tension Al Nabaa, an influential Islamist leaning TV channel that backs the self-declared government, was taken off air.
“They have entered by force under foreign protection, and Libyans won’t accept anything imposed on them by force”, he told Reuters. He tweeted: “All security actors in (hash)Libya have responsibility to ensure safety and security of Presidency Council & (hash)GNA”.
The EU, as well as the French, British and Italian foreign ministers also greeted the move. A colleague said broadcasting had been suspended, adding that no one had been hurt.