By Hadi Fornaji.
Tunis, 29 March 2017:
The Presidency Council’s foreign minister, Mohamed Siala, has said that if Khalifa Hafter wants to be Libya’s leader he should resign from the military and stand for elections as the country’s president. If Libyans then chose him, he would be acceptable.
Speaking to CNN’s Arabic service in Jordan where he is attending the Arab summit, Siala said he wanted to put straight comments he made last week while in Washington in which he was reported saying that Hafter had been appointed as head of the armed forces by the elected House of Representatives and as such had a legitimate role in Libya.
He also, however, said at the time that Libyans were opposed to military rule and were not prepared to replace the Qaddafi regime with another dictatorship.
His reported comments about Hafter last week resulted in strong criticism of him.
There are, however, no immediate plans for a presidential election although earlier this month, House of Representatives’ head Ageela Saleh said he wanted to see parliamentary and presidential elections take place by February 2018.
In today’s interview, the foreign minister also said that there was no evidence to substantiate reports of Russians being based in Egypt near the border with the intention of intervening in Libya. In any event, he said, Libyans would not accept foreign interference in the country without the explicit approval of the government. In the case of the Americans bombing the so-called Islamic State in Sirte, he said, Libya had specifically requested US help. Without any such request Libya would not allow any unilateral foreign intervention.