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Libya’s Haftar in Confrontation with Neighboring Countries after Declaring End of Skhirat Agreement

Libya’s Haftar in Confrontation with Neighboring Countries after Declaring End of Skhirat Agreement

Tuesday, 19 December, 2017 - 08:00
Libya's Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. (Reuters)

The head of the Libyan National Accord Government, Fayez al-Sarraj, stressed on Monday the “continuation of the work of his government,” in response to the declaration by the Libyan National Army commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar on Sunday, that the two-year-old Skhirat Agreement has expired. This will eventually lead to the dissolution of the government.

“Those who set obstacles will not be able to prevent the National Accord government from doing its duties,” Sarraj said in a statement, reiterating the commitment of Libya’s Presidential Council to holding elections in 2018.

“We will not allow any vacuum that will be filled with chaos and violations,” he added.

Haftar announced on Sunday the expiry of the 2015 Skhirat Agreement and the end of the tenure of the UN-backed National Accord Government headed by Sarraj.

The agreement, signed on December 17, 2015 in Morocco, under the auspices of the UN, stipulated the formation of a consensual government for a one-year term, renewable only once.

The UN Security Council, however, has stressed that the Skhirat Agreement should remain the only framework to resolve the current crisis in Libya, until the holding of the general elections next year.

In a televised speech, Haftar said: “The validity of the so-called political agreement - and all the bodies emanating from it – has expired.”

“The military institution will not submit to any party unless it has gained its legitimacy from the Libyan people,” he added.

Tareq Shuaib, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Sarraj government, announced his resignation from his post, confirming the expiration of all bodies emanating from the Skhirat Agreement.

Shuaib sent an official letter to Sarraj and members of the government, saying that his resignation “will not end the existence of the government, but will highlight his refusal to continue in the path of division and fragmentation.”

In response to Haftar’s announcement, the head of the Libyan Parliament, Aguila Saleh, called for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held in 2018.

“I call upon the Libyan people to participate in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections,” he said in a TV broadcast.

“It is the only way to peacefully and democratically transfer power.”

Meanwhile, Libya’s neighboring countries, including Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt, expressed an anti-Haftar stance.

Following a meeting in Tunis on Monday, the foreign ministers of the three countries underlined their support for the Skhirat Agreement as a "framework for political solution in Libya.”

In a joint statement, they welcomed the recent UN Security Council statement on the situation in Libya and reaffirmed "the central role and political and legal responsibility of the United Nations.”

In a separate development, unidentified gunmen assassinated Mohammed Ashtaoui, the mayor of Misrata, the third largest city in Libya, after they ambushed his car and kidnapped him as he left the city airport upon his return from an official trip to Turkey.

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