Libyan eastern forces have signaled a move to take control of the capital Tripoli. The forces have swept through the South and taken control of the remaining oilfields in recent weeks.
Western diplomats say, the United Nations is shocked by the southern advance. The UN scrambles to mediate between eastern commander, Khalifa Haftar and Tripoli’s globally-recognized government led by Prime Minister, Fayez al-Serraj.
At anti Haftar rallies in Tripoli and Misrata on Friday, March 8, protesters said there was no place for military rule in Libya.
We are calling for the application of the constitution and fair elections. Whoever thinks they can win, can run and we will respect the winner.
“There is no place for military rule in Libya. We are not against the military or police or the law. We are calling for the application of the constitution and fair elections. Whoever thinks they can win, can run and we will respect the winner”, said Tripoli resident, Mahmoud Akhal.
75 year old Haftar, is a former general, who is increasingly taking the situation into his own hands. He’s backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Haftar has not said whether he wants to march to Tripoli, which would likely escalate tensions. But Reuters said his Libyan National Army (LNA) has hinted heavily that it might do so, if Haftar is not recognised as the country’s overall military commander. This has been his aim since he began assembling the force in 2014.
Haftar is seen as a beacon of hope among Libyans yearning for electricity, petrol and banknotes scarce in a country which once enjoyed some of highest living standards in the region.
For many, especially in the east, the general is the only one who can end fighting by myriad groups with ever-changing names.
For his enemies in western cities and Islamists oppressed under the old regime, he is a new Gaddafi.