By Sami Zaptia.
Khalifa Hafter, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), the Libyan army recognized by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR), has said that Libya is not ready yet for democracy.
Speaking to the French-language Jeune Afrique, Hafter warned that the upcoming 2018 Libyan elections must bring a solution to the country’s current blood shedding, and that if the ongoing chaos in Libya continued after the planned elections, he would say enough is enough and take action.
Hafter also criticized both Faiez Serraj and Saif Al-Qaddafi in the interview. He accused Serraj of being weak and not strict enough and of being unable to control the militias in Tripoli.
On the other hand, he accused Saif of being naïve in expecting to win the next elections, adding that he did not have enough popularity.
It will be recalled that Hafter has recently, on several occasions and through various media outlets, confirmed his support for Libya’s forthcoming elections. However, critics have accused him of being ambivalent towards elections and for not believing in democracy in principle but of seeing them as a means to an end: a means to gain power.
In short, Hafter critics accuse him of having Qaddafi-like dictatorial ambitions. His threat to take actions if the 2018 elections are not successful only add to that suspicion.
On the other hand, supporters of Hafter told this publication that all Hafter was doing was warning those who had destroyed Libyan democracy in 2014 not to think of repeating their actions.
He is sending a message that the election results must be respected and that Tripoli-based militias must submit to any democratically elected parliament and its government in 2018
Hafter’s public criticism of Saif Qaddafi would also come as a surprise to those who assumed they were both in the same political camp.
It is not clear if Hafter was being genuine about Saif’s lack of popularity and election prospects, or whether Hafter saw Saif as a threat to his own election ambitions.
It must also be stressed that no official election date has been announced yet. However, the head of the High National Election Council (HNEC) Emad Al-Sayah was quoted by Chinese media as saying that elections should take place by September 2018. He also said that all Libyan citizens would be free to stand for elections, thereby not precluding Saif Qaddafi.
In reality, the rules of the 2018 elections, as UNSMIL head Ghassan Salame has mentioned, would need to be set and passed by the HoR, prior to any Libyan election being able to take part.
Opinion: Haftar’s confusion makes him contradicts himself
By Libya Prospect Editorial
The latest statement of the commander of the Dignity Operation, General Khalifa Haftar, about the general elections operation had come contradictory because, on the one hand, he said he supports the process but on the other hand he stressed that Libya is not ready for democracy.
Haftar said, in a press interview, that it is important to organise the elections operation shortly, stressing that it should be transparent and compulsory. Then he added, in the same context, that Libya is not ready for democracy yet.
Haftar stated that if the way to go for elections is closed, then “we have sleeping cells in 10% of the Libyan lands that we can control and activate them.”
Haftar had criticised what he called them (naïve) who believe in bringing back the son of Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam, to the political scene, adding that Saif Al-Islam is a poor man who is used by some sides for money.
The contradictions in Haftar’s statements raised some questions about his case; is it true that Haftar is confused about the elections?
Why had he called for the election before endorsing the constitution?
Observers think that Haftar is suffering and confused between two significant issues, on one side he looks failed and not qualified to achieve what his supporters want from him. His supporters want him to play the role of the strong and the only leader.
On the other side, it looks like that Haftar is not that smart and strong leader who can exceed this crisis.
The observers said that Haftar sometimes appears as the weak and broken when he calls for the elections, but some other times he refuses democracy.
Some activists said that Haftar’s statement is a sign that he is preparing himself to refuse any results of the elections because he already rejected the Political Agreement.
Other observers commented that Haftar doesn’t respect democracy and he has no alternative way but to accept the elections to show the world that he respects democracy for the sake of finding anyhow to offer himself as the ruler of Libya.