By Khaled Mahmoud
Just days after the Libyan parties agreed to the Paris accord, disputes among the rivals have started to emerge, in what may be a sign to the deal’s imminent early collapse.
Aguila Saleh, the parliament speaker based in the eastern city of Tobruk, declared Libyan National Army commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar “a red line” that should not be crossed, while Khalid Al-Mishri, the newly elected head of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood High Council of State, said that he does not even recognize the LNA chief’s authority.
Saleh told France 24 on Wednesday that Haftar and the LNA saved the Libyans and even some neighboring countries from the threat of terrorism.
“Should all sides have good intentions, then the elections, set for December 10, may take place,” he added.
Moreover, he said: “We are prepared to support the international community in preserving security and drive out the militias from the capital.”
Mishri was quick to reject Saleh’s claims, telling France 24 that he does not recognize Hafter as commander of the army, adding that he does not head a legitimate force.
He revealed that he had relayed this stance to the envoy of French President Emmanuel Macron.
The French leader had sponsored the Paris talks on Tuesday in a bid to end Libya’s crisis. The gatherers, which included Haftar, Saleh, Mishri and National Accord Government Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, agreed to hold elections on December 10. They also said they would work towards phasing out parallel institutions and unifying the Libyan Central Bank.
Mishri added that he recognizes one high commander of the Libyan army “and he is called Fayez al-Sarraj. The chief of staff is present in Tripoli and he is Abdul Rahman al-Tawil.”
Furthermore, he denied claims that had shaken Haftar’s hand at the Paris meeting, saying he “is responsible for the tragedy of 130,000 displaced Libyans from Derna due to the war he is waging there.”
He therefore called for a ceasefire and opening of safe passages as a goodwill gesture before dialogue is launched.
Mishri also said that he does not represent the Muslim Brotherhood, stressing that Haftar’s campaign in Derna is aimed at “eliminating political opponents, not terrorism.”
Sarraj was quick to chime in on the dispute, saying: “The only red lines that should not be crossed are Libya’s unity and safety and the people’s right to determine their future through democratic means.”
He called on all sides to make concessions to ensure that stability and safety are restored in Libya.
The PM said that he stands at an equal distance from all sides, adding that he is committed to the Paris agreement.