Forces loyal to Libya’s strongman Khalifa Haftar are pushing through the country, threatening to ruin efforts made by the United Nations to resolve the power vacuum there via democratic elections.
Media reported on Saturday that forces loyal to the 75-year-old commander had swept through the south and took control of its oilfields in recent weeks.
Now, Haftar’s forces are signaling their intention to take the capital Tripoli, from which in nearby Zawiya the country’s oil gets exported abroad.
The UN, in an effort to rescue elections planned for later this year, is scrambling to mediate between Haftar and the Tripoli-based unity Government of National Accord (GNA) led by 59-year-old Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj.
Libya should press ahead with national elections even if voters reject a draft constitution in a planned referendum, the parliament chief says.
The UN is hopeful that Libya will hold national elections by June.
The two main rivaling governments, one in the east and another in the west, are each backed by an array of rival militia factions.
GNA is backed by Western countries, and the UN recognizes it as the official government of Libya.
The other government, known as the House of Representatives, is based in the eastern city of Tobruk, and is run by Haftar’s Libya National Army (LNA). Haftar is backed by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 after a NATO military intervention, the UN fears that without free and fair elections there is no chance to end the unrest and violence resulting from rivaling powers running the country.
Gaddafi’s ouster created a huge power vacuum, leading to chaos and the emergence of rival militant groups.
By Africafrique and agencies