By Abdullah Ben-Ibrahim
The fate of chief of Dignity Operation Khalifa Haftar, who has been admitted to a Paris hospital, remains in limbo after several identical sources reported his “death” on Friday, but his aides and supporters denied this.
Haftar was taken to Paris last week after suffering from a stroke. His health condition was said to critical, but a close source to him said it was a routine medical test.
Spokesperson of Dignity Operation Ahmed Al-Mismari declared that Haftar is in Paris for talks with French officials and he conducted periodic medical examinations during the visit.
His Libya Al-Hadat TV accused local and international news outlets that reported his illness, including Italy’s La Repubblica, as being funded by Qatar to spread fake news about Haftar.
On Friday, a source, who preferred not to named, confirmed “Haftar’s death” at his Paris hospital. The news of his “death” was also confirmed by other sources on other news outlets.
Egyptian MP Mustafa Bakry mourned “death of Haftar” on his Twitter account on Friday, but he made a correction after an hour saying “Haftar is in good health.”
Al-Mismari, his spokesperson, denied his death and said it was “a terrorist campaign by Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS to divert media attention and gain progress.”
In what appears to be a denial to the news of “Haftar’s death,” the UN mission in Libya reported that “Ghassan Salame spoke to Khalifa Haftar by telephone on Friday and discussed with him the general situation in Libya and the latest political developments in the country.”
The French Foreign Ministry rejected to disclose any information about Haftar and referred journalists investigating his case to so-called “the General Command of Libyan Army.”
But observers raised many questions about the denial of “Haftar’s death” by the UN mission and his aides. Some suggested that it’s not the right time to announce the “death” until they contain the consequences in that tribal region of east Libya.
“If Haftar is in good health and can speak, so why doesn’t he speak to any TV channel to reassure his supporters and dispel doubts about his death,” a Libyan politician says.
Khalifa Haftar has failed so far to make a public appearance or TV statement to quash his “death” rumors, leaving the door wide open for speculations.