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Eastern Libyan leader announces 'final chance' for elections

FILE PHOTO: Libya's eastern commander Khalifa Haftar speaks to the media after submitting his candidacy papers for the presidential elections at the office of the High National Elections Commission, in Benghazi, Libya November 16, 2021. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

The Libyan National Army of eastern commander Khalifa Haftar on Saturday announced "a final opportunity" to draw up a road map for elections, Libyan al-Hadath TV reported, a year to the day after rival factions agreed to hold the polls.

Many Libyans believe their political leaders are unwilling to find a way out of the endless political logjam because elections could push them all from power.

"The General Command (of LNA) announces a final opportunity through which it will draw a road map and hold elections," Haftar was quoted by the TV channel as saying.

He addressed Libyans in the second largest city of Benghazi, home to his forces, on the 71st anniversary of independence.

After a 2020 ceasefire, the rival eastern and western sides agreed to hold elections on Dec. 24, 2021, and installed a new unity government that was meant to reunify divided national institutions. But the process fell apart.

Libya has had little peace since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi and led to a 2014 split between the warring eastern and western factions.

Haftar waged war on factions in the west after 2014, including a 14-month offensive to capture Tripoli which was repelled by the internationally recognised government.

In a statement, the U.N. special envoy to Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily, encouraged Libyan leaders "to agree on a solution based on a national compromise and avoid escalatory action that would threaten Libya’s already fragile stability and unity".

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli, Ahmed Elumami and Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Enas Alashray; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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