Monday 23 October 2017

Ex-Libyan general 'suspends parliament'

General Khalifa Haftar
General Khalifa Haftar

El Deep

A group led by a renegade Libyan general has said it suspended parliament after launching an attack against the legislative body.

Gen Mokhtar Farnana, speaking on a Libyan television channel yesterday, said a group led by Gen Khalifa Haftar had assigned a 60-member assembly to take over for parliament.

Gen Farnana said Libya's current government would act on an emergency basis. He did not elaborate. He also said the attack on Libya's parliament was not a coup, but "fighting by people's choice".

Extremists

Gen Farnana admitted responsibility for the attack on parliament, in which gunmen kidnapped some 20 lawmakers and officials in an assault that threatened to further splinter a country dominated by the armed groups that overthrew dictator Moammar Gaddafi three years ago.

The attack, which hospital officials said killed one person and wounded nine, came after an assault on Friday by Gen Haftar's forces on Islamist militias in the restive eastern city of Benghazi that authorities said killed 70 people.

Yesterday, gunmen targeted the Islamist lawmakers and officials Gen Haftar blames for allowing extremists to hold the country ransom, his spokesman Mohammed al-Hegazi told Libya's al-Ahrar television station.

The fighting spread to the capital's southern edge last night and along the highway leading to the airport.

Libya's army and police rely heavily on the country's myriad of militias, the groups formed around ethnic identity, hometowns and religion that formed out of the rebel factions that toppled Col Gaddafi.

Bringing them under control has been one of the greatest challenges for Libya's successive interim governments, one they have largely failed.

Irish Independent

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