By Ajnadin Mustafa.
Tripoli, 26 June 2016:
Signalling a break in Zintan’s opposition to the Presidency Council and the Government of National Accord (GNA), Zintani military strongman Mukhtar Al-Akhdar has invited Presidency Council leader Faiez Serraj to visit the mountain town.
The invitation came during a meeting between the two men in Tripoli on Friday night.
According to Zintan FM radio, Al-Akhdar flew to Tripoli at the invitation of Serraj and met him at the Abu Setta. Their talks, it said, covered a wide range of subjects but focused primarily on the situation of the displaced, particularly those from Tripoli who had fled to Zintan. Al-Akhdar is said to have told Serraj that the town had requested help from the House of Representatives and the Beida-based Thinni administration in dealing with the refugees, but they had done nothing.
The station said that Serraj had agreed on the importance of returning the displaced, promising that they would be compensated for properties damaged or destroyed. It also said that the two men had discussed how the displaced could be protected once they returned. This, though, would not happen immediately, Al-Akhdar reportedly said.
Zintan has, until now, distanced itself from the GNA, alleging that it has been sidelined by what it has called a Misrata-dominated administration. The fractured relationship has been highlighted by the continued boycott of the Presidency Council by the one Zintani member, Omar Aswad. Instead, Zintan has repeatedly stressed its loyalty to the House of Representatives and support for the Libyan National Army led by Khaifa Hafter.
Veteran 2011 revolution commander Al-Akhdar, who controlled Tripoli International Airport from the end of the revolution until his forces were forced to give it up in mid-2014, was the head of Zintan’s military council. His power and influence is said to have diminished somewhat in recent months, but he is still a major Zintani figure and his visit to Tripoli would not have gone ahead without the agreement of the rest of the Zintani leadership.