By Ajnadin Mustafa.
Tripoli, 3 April 2016:
Regular armed forces commanders from eastern Libya and a number from the south and west are reported . . .[restrict]to have have gathered in Marj today for discussions with General Khalifa Hafter and the army’s high command about the situation in the country since the arrival of the UN-endorsed Presidency Council in Tripoli.
They include the head of the Libyan National Army’s western Operations Room, Colonel Idris Madi, who flew into Benina airbase yesterday. He was briefed there about the situation in Benghazi by Brigadier-General Abdussalam Al-Hassi who took over the local operations room last December.
No statement was expected from the meeting and an army spokesman refused to confirm or deny that it was taking place. The only meeting he would confirm was that today between Hafter and HoR President Ageela Saleh. However, according to army sources, the aim the commanders’ gathering was to rally the armed forces behind the House of Representatives’ president Ageela Saleh and ensure that commanders and units do not start working with the Presidency Council and prime minister-designate Faiez Serraj until he and the Government of National Accord are approved by the HoR.
Those meeting in Marj were said to include a number of Zintani military leaders opposed to the GNA who allegedly claim that it is controlled by the Misrata and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Confirmation that the LNA would not support Serraj until the GNA was approved by the HoR came today from one of Hafter’s top commanders.
There were no contacts with Serraj, he said, asking not to be named. “We have the parliament [the HoR] and they are responsible for the politics. We are not interested in politics. We only care about fighting Daesh in Sirte and different places,” he said.
The armed forces would “clear out” Sirte, Misrata and Tripoli after the liberation of Benghazi, he claimed.
Asked how the LNA could enter Tripoli with no contacts, he said that “we have army contacts; but not militias. They will appear at the right time.” The country was indivisible, and the LNA would liberate it, he insisted.
Hafter himself is known to be opposed to the GNA, although so far he has refused to make any public statement on the matter.
As confirmed by the LNA’s media office, however, he and two of his main commanders, Major General Saqr Geroushi and Colonel Wanis Bukhamada, held talks in Marj with HoR President Ageela Saleh today. Yesterday, while in the town, Saleh also met with Hafter’s political ally, boycotting Presidency Council member Ali Gatrani, as well as Cyrenaican tribal leaders, mayors and members of the HoR, and together insisted there would be no dealings with the Presidency Council and the GNA until it was approved by the HoR.
At that meeting there was also a demand that the Presidency Council go to Tobruk to present the new government to the HoR. It is now reported that Serraj and the rest of the Council intend to do so. [/restrict]