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Haftar dismisses UN Libya unity deal

Khalifa Haftar leader of the Libya National Army
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The commander of Libya’s National Army Khalifa Haftarhas declared an end to a UN-brokered political unity agreement. Haftar says the political agreement has destroyed Libya and he will work towards creating conditions for building permanent civic institutions. He also said his forces had a “popular mandate” to rule Libya. Haftar has vowed to press his assault to seize Tripoli, the country’s capital.

Haftar, however, did not make clear as to whether the parliament whose jurisdiction his forces fall – supported his move.    

In April 2019, Haftar launched a military campaign to wrest control of the capital, Tripoli. The offensive has however been stalled by forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA).  A counteroffensive by GNA-aligned troops in March resulted in Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) being expelled from several key western cities.

Haftar receives support from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia. The GNA is backed by Turkey.

Since the defeat in western Libya, Haftar’s forces have intensified their attacks on the outskirts of the capital, Tripoli. This Monday, Haftar’s forces have continually shelled residential areas in the south of Tripoli.

Related: Libya frees prisoners to stem the spread of the coronavirus

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Random rockets have landed in residential areas. A woman along with one of her sons was reportedly killed, while three of her other children were injured in a random rocket attack launched by Haftar’s forces.

Haftar’s mandate to rule Libya

Haftar had in a speech last week called on Libyans in territories under his control to hold demonstrations and give him a mandate to rule. Despite the coronavirus curfew, crowds thronged the streets of Benghazi and chanted slogans against the rival Tripoli GNA administration. 

The United Nations set up the Tripoli-based government in 2015 following the emergence of the two rival centres of power. The agreement bestows international legitimacy on the GNA under the leadership of PM Fayez al-Sarraj.

It also acknowledges the House of Representatives based in Tobruk as the country’s official legislature and grants consultative powers to the previous parliament based in Tripoli.

Mohammed Ali Abdallah, an adviser to the GNA, said in a statement: “Haftar has once more exposed his authoritarian intentions to the world.
“He no longer seeks to conceal his contempt for a political solution and democracy in Libya. His statement tonight is the final, desperate act of a defeated man.”