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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Cairo - Khalid Mahmoud

Libya: Haftar Distances Himself from the Dbeibeh-Bashagha Dispute

Armed presence in Tripoli, Libya (Reuters)

The commander of the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, distanced himself from the military conflict between the forces of the two governments in the country.

Abdulhamid Dbeibeh leads the interim Libyan government, and parliament-appointed Fathi Bashagha chairs the unity cabinet.

LNA official Major General Khaled al-Mahjoub denied reports about the movement of any forces affiliated with the Army’s General Command towards the west.

He explained in a brief statement that no orders were issued to the military units regarding any operations, asserting that these were baseless rumors.

Meanwhile, the commander of the western military region, Osama al-Juwaili, continued to call for war and accused unnamed armed groups of preventing the government from carrying out its duties in Tripoli.

Juwaili, dismissed by Dbeibeh, said in televised statements that war is a valid option if Dbeibeh remains in power, pointing out that it depends on the results of the Sunday meeting with the leaders of the armed militias loyal to him.

He denied any rapprochement between Dbeibeh and Haftar, saying that after his term, the PM should hand over power like before him.

Juwaili stressed in his statements that the only way to avoid an armed conflict in the capital is to hand power to Bashagha peacefully. He described the international community and the UN mission as a "big lie," noting that interests and conflicts exist between countries inside and outside Libya.

Meanwhile, the US Ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, concluded a visit to the capital, saying he discussed with Libyan officials the importance of maintaining stability and security considering the recent clashes that killed 16 Libyans.

In a statement issued by the US embassy, he said that his country continues to support most Libyans "who expect elections and demand accountability over their leaders," noting that "thankfully, Libya avoided a more widespread conflict after armed clashes in Tripoli and Misrata."

He continued: “A year ago, I used a proverb to describe the importance of quickly establishing the basis for elections: “Time is like a sword; if you do not cut it, it will cut you.”

“The current situation is unsustainable,” he said, warning that “every day passes without agreements on effective governance and holding elections is a threat to Libyans’ security and safety.”

After his meeting in Tripoli with the Vice-President of the Presidential Council, Abdullah al-Lafi, Norland considered that ordinary Libyans should not face the danger of conflict between armed groups, pointing to the importance of national reconciliation for elections and long-term stability.

Lafi reiterated during the meeting the importance of the success of the national reconciliation project and the need to move towards the elections as an essential guarantor of stability.

For her part, Britain's ambassador to Libya, Caroline Hurndall, said that she stressed during a meeting with Dbeibeh the “need for dialogue between all sides, especially in light of recent violence,” adding that the current situation is unsustainable and “agreed that elections must remain a priority.”

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