Libya Tribune

Khalifa Haftar on Monday unilaterally declared himself the ruler of Libya, announcing a coup on the Skhirat Political Agreement and the House of Representatives. 

In a video statement, Haftar pointed to street demonstrations in areas under his control, and claimed he accepted the mandate of the Libyan people to govern the country.

He said the agreement, signed by the warring sides in Libya under the auspices of the UN, has lost its rule and became a relic of the past.

The agreement was signed in 2015 in Morocco. As part of the agreement, the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) was formed to manage the transition process in Libya.

Haftar and his political allies tried to prevent this agreement from entering into force with several military operations, the last of which his aggression on Tripoli.

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UN-backed Libyan government accuses Khalifa Haftar of staging ‘coup’

UN, US and Russia say they reject Haftar’s decision to abandon the 2015 political agreement for Libya.

The UN-recognised Libyan government has accused Khalifa Haftar of staging a “coup” after the military commander, who controls most of the eastern part of the North African country, claimed to have a “popular mandate” to govern Libya.

“It’s a farce and the latest in a long series of coups d’etat,” the Government of National Accord (GNA) said in a statement early on Tuesday.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army has been pushing for months to capture the capital Tripoli, where the GNA is based, in a battle that has displaced more than 150,000 people. 

In a video message late on Monday, Haftar announced abandoning the 2015 UN-sponsored agreement signed in Skhirat, Morocco that produced the national unity government of the GNA.

“We announce our acceptance of the people’s will and mandate, and the end of the Skhirat Agreement,” he said.

“The political agreement destroyed the country. We will work to create the conditions for building permanent civic institutions.”

‘Masks have fallen’

Libya has seen civil unrest and a prolonged governance crisis since a NATO-backed armed uprising toppled and killed the country’s previous ruler, long-time autocrat Muammar Gaddafi. 

Haftar, a former general who served under Gaddafi and resided in the United States prior to the 2011 uprising, has emerged as a key player in the unrest. Backed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and France, the field marshal has created his own army and overran large swathes of land under the premise of fighting terrorism.

His announcement on Monday appears to outline his plan to discard negotiations and take over the entire country. 

“Today all the fake masks have fallen off the few military men who have a regressive coup mentality that does not believe in democracy and cannot contribute to building a modern civil state,” GNA Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha wrote on Twitter late on Monday.

For her part, acting UN envoy for Libya Stephanie Williams held a phone call with GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, saying that the 2015 political agreement still stands and remains as the “sole internationally recognised framework of governance in Libya as per UN Security Council Resolutions”.

“Williams renewed her call for an immediate humanitarian pause during #Ramadan, paving the way for a lasting ceasefire,” the UN Support Mission in Libya said on Twitter.

US, Russia react

Russia’s Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday that Moscow does not back Haftar’s latest announcement. It quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying that Russia does not have leverage over the Libyan general.

“We have contact with all the actors in the Libyan conflict, without exception,” Lavrov said.

Washington also rejected Haftar’s move, saying that it “regrets” his nixing of the 2015 agreement.

“The United States regrets LNA commander Haftar’s suggestion that changes to #Libya’s political structure can be imposed by unilateral declaration and reiterates the call for an immediate humanitarian cessation hostilities,” the US embassy in Libya said in a statement.

Although the US officially backs the GNA, Tripoli has accused Western powers of covertly backing the renegade general.

Last year, after Donald Trump spoke on the phone with Haftar, the White House said in a statement that the US president “recognised Field Marshall Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources”.

Khalifa Haftar declares himself ruler of Libya with ‘mandate’ from the people

Libyan commander’s move apparently sweeps aside civilian rule in east of country

Military commander Khalifa Haftar has declared himself the ruler of Libya with a “popular mandate” from the people.

In a televised speech on Monday night, the leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA) announced that the General Command of the Armed Forces had “accepted the will of the people” to take over management of the country.

The move apparently marginalises an eastern-based civilian parliament that had until now been backing the military commander.

In his speech, Haftar added that a 2015 deal that produced the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), a unity administration based in Tripoli that was formed after years of civil conflict, was null and void.

“We announce our acceptance of the people’s will and mandate and the end of the Skhirat Agreement,” he said.

“The political agreement destroyed the country. We will work to create the conditions for building permanent civic institutions.”

Haftar’s forces, politically backed by the eastern parliament – nominally a signatory to the 2015 deal itself – have been staging an assault on the capital Tripoli since April 2019.

Although the LNA last year managed to advance into the southern suburbs of the city, it lost ground to pro-GNA forces during clashes this month.

The GNA is backed by Turkey, while Haftar is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia.

A Russian source told Reuters on Tuesday that Haftar’s power grab was “surprising”.

The source said the most important thing now was for the military and political decisions reached at a conference in Berlin in January to be implemented by Libyans, with the assistance of the international community

“We support the continuation of the political process,” it said. “There is no military solution to the conflict.”

2015 deal ‘expired’

Libya has been in a state of unrest since 2011, when a Nato-backed uprising toppled longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

Some Libyans, as well as numerous regional powers, have seen Haftar – who was a US-based former military commander under Gaddafi – as a potentially stabilising force in the country.

Others, however, have accused him and his forces of authoritarian tendencies and of committing war crimes, as well as trying to overthrow the UN-backed, internationally recognised government.

Haftar had already indicated in 2017 that the 2015 deal had “expired”.

Last week the commander said Libyans should choose an institution to govern the country after the end of the Skhirat deal.

He raised the possibility of a “constitutional declaration”, which has concerned some who believe this could be a step towards a partition of the country.

“Haftar has once more exposed his authoritarian intentions to the world,” Mohammed Ali Abdallah, an adviser to the GNA, said in a statement.

“He no longer seeks to conceal his contempt for a political solution and democracy in Libya.”

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