The Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNA) on Tuesday denounced an umpteenth “coup” by its rival, East Libyan strongman, Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who had assured the day before that he had obtained the “people’s mandate” to govern the country.
In a brief speech Monday evening, Haftar announced that the general command of his self-proclaimed “army” had “accepted the will of the people and its mandate”, without specifying from which institution he had received the “people’s mandate”.
Nor did he indicate the political implications of this “mandate”, including the role that the parliament in the east of the country and the parallel government appointed by this assembly elected in 2014 would play.
Mr. Haftar derives his legitimacy from the parliament, which had been forced into exile in the east of the country due to an outbreak of violence in the capital.
The GNA denounced a “farce and a new coup d‘état which is in addition to a series of others that began years ago”.
It said Mr Haftar “even turned against the parallel political bodies that supported him and they appointed him” head of the army.
According to the GNA, Marshal Haftar, who has been trying since April 2019 to seize the capital Tripoli, wanted “to conceal the defeat of his militias and mercenaries” and “the failure of his dictatorial project”.
For its part, the United States saw Haftar’s announcement as “a suggestion (…) that changes to Libya’s political structure can be imposed by a unilateral declaration,” the US embassy said on its Twitter account.
Accused by his critics of wanting to establish a new military dictatorship in Libya, Marshal Haftar also announced “the end of the Skhirat Agreement” signed in late 2015 in Morocco under the aegis of the UN, from which the GNA was born.
In 2017, Mr. Haftar had already assured that the agreement had “expired”. In 2014, he had even stated in a speech on television that he was going to take power, but his announcement was not followed up.