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North Africa

Libya’s unity government says rejects Haftar’s truce offer

This image grab taken from a video published by the War Information Division of military strongman Khalifa Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) on April 28, 2020 shows Haftar giving a speech, saying he had “a popular mandate” to govern the country, declaring a key 2015 political deal over and vowing to press his assault to seize Tripoli. – In a speech on his Libya al-Hadath TV channel, Haftar said his self-styled Libyan “army” was “proud to be mandated with the historic task” of leading Libya. He did not make clear whether an elected parliament in the country’s east, a signatory to the deal, backed his move — or what its future role would be. Haftar has so far drawn his legitimacy from the administration based in the country’s east, and last April his forces launched an assault to seize the capital Tripoli, in the west, from the Government of National Accord. (Photo by – / LNA War Information Division / AFP) /

Libya’s UN-recognised government Thursday rejected a truce unilaterally called the day before by military strongman Khalifa Haftar, saying it “did not trust” the announcement made by its eastern-based rival.

The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) said in a statement that it will continue in its “legitimate defence”, attacking “any threat where it exists and putting an end to outlaw groups”.

It was referring to forces loyal to Haftar, who launched an offensive on the capital in April last year.

Haftar said Wednesday his forces would cease hostilities for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on April 24, following international calls for a truce in the war-torn country.

 

“The commander-general announces the halting of military operations from his side,” said Ahmad al-Mesmari, a spokesman for Haftar — who controls the east and swathes of southern Libya — from the city of Benghazi.

 

However, the fighting did not stop in Tripoli after Mesmari’s announcement, with explosions still heard from the centre of the capital, according to an AFP correspondent.

Since fighting began in April 2019, several ceasefires between Haftar’s forces and the GNA have fallen through, with both sides accusing the other of violations.

“These violations make it so we do not trust truce announcements (from Haftar),” the GNA said in its statement.

Any “ceasefire needs to have international safeguards and mechanisms” to monitor its implementation and to document violations, the GNA added.

Last week, the UN, EU and several countries called for both sides to lay down their arms during the holy month.

Haftar’s announcement came after his forces suffered a series of setbacks in recent weeks, with GNA forces ousting them from two key coastal cities west of Tripoli.

The North African nation has been gripped by chaos since the 2011 ouster and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with rival administrations in the east and west vying for power

 

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