The speaker of Libya's eastern parliament has declared martial law in areas under its control, a move intended to empower its military to respond quickly to infiltration by militias loyal to the rival, U.N.-brokered government in the capital, Tripoli.

Parliament Speaker Agila Saleh's declaration Sunday places the military on high alert and expands its powers.

The measure reflects the eastern administration's consternation as it comes under growing pressure by the international community to recognize the Tripoli-based national unity government.

Libya descended into chaos after its 2011 civil war, with Islamic militants gaining in strength as two rival governments in the east and west vied for control. The U.N.-backed government arrived in Tripoli in March.