Home UK & Europe Europe No Ceasefire in Tripoli Offensive: Libya’s Haftar Rejects Macron’s Request

No Ceasefire in Tripoli Offensive: Libya’s Haftar Rejects Macron’s Request

Tripoli

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Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is leading a military offensive against the UN-recognized government in Tripoli, rejected a ceasefire requested by French President Emmanuel Macron during talks in Paris, an Elysee official said Wednesday.

Media reports reveal that French President Macron and his officials have been officially reinstating their French support for the GNA for multiple weeks, urging for an “unconditional ceasefire”, however, France, alongside other European countries, has also been aiding Haftar in an attempt to eliminate militancy in Libya.

The UN envoy for Libya warned Tuesday the battle for Tripoli was “just the start of a long and bloody war” and called for immediate steps to cut off arms flows fuelling the fighting.

Hafter said the conditions for halting hostilities “were not met,” while acknowledging that a “political dialogue” is needed to end the standoff with his rival, Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, the official said on condition of anonymity.

France Urges Haftar towards Ceasefire

The official stated, “But the mistrust between the two Libyans is stronger than ever,” the official said, acknowledging “an impasse between the international community’s desire for a ceasefire, and marshal Haftar’s way of seeing things.”

He added that Haftar had justified the offensive he launched against Tripoli last month by saying he was fighting against “private militias and extremist groups” who are gaining influence in the capital.

Read More: Libya conflict boils down to the man driving the war – Khalifa Haftar

The Elysee official further added, as cited by TRT World, “When the question of the ceasefire was put on the table, Haftar’s reaction to this was to ask: “negotiate with whom for a ceasefire today?” The official highlighted that Haftar is convinced that the GNA is “completely infested by militias” and he has to plans to negotiate with individuals who represent these militias.

The French official stated that President Macron had urged Haftar to make an official step towards launching a ceasefire, to which Haftar responded by stressing that a political dialogue would indeed be essential to end the conflict, and if would be willing if the conditions put forward for a ceasefire are duly met. However, the official added that Haftar has not indicated when he will exhibit the willingness to hold dialogue focused on ending the bloody conflict.

Both Macron and Conte had already met recently with Sarraj, who has accused Paris of supporting Haftar and tacitly backing his assault on Tripoli, claims denied by French officials.

The French presidency official noted, “We can clearly see the impasse that exists today between the desire of the international community to say that there must be a ceasefire and a resumption of political discussions and the way in which Haftar sees things with his explanation of the lack of legitimacy of the interlocutors”.

Reuters reported that the official said that during his meeting with Macron, Haftar denied accusations that he and his army, or supporters, were reaping benefits of oil sales from Eastern Libya.

Read More: UN postpones Libya talks as violence rages

Meanwhile, Sarraj said in Tunis Wednesday that any ceasefire could not be achieved without “the withdrawal of the forces of the aggressor”, according to a statement.

In Paris, Haftar did not make a statement after meeting with Macron for over an hour, a visit that follows Haftar’s surprise trip to Rome last week for talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Both Macron and Conte had already met recently with Sarraj, who has accused Paris of supporting Haftar and tacitly backing his assault on Tripoli, claims denied by French officials.

The weeks of fighting have killed 510 people and wounded 2,467, according to the latest toll from the World Health Organization.

After the talks with Haftar, Macron’s office said the president reiterated France’s priorities in Libya: “Fight against terrorist groups, dismantle trafficking networks, especially those for illegal immigration, and permanently stabilise Libya.”

Start of a Long and Bloody War

France and Italy are the two lead European powers seeking to find a solution to years of instability, spreading Islamic extremism and a migrant crisis in Libya, which fell into chaos after the NATO-backed toppling of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The UN envoy for Libya warned Tuesday the battle for Tripoli was “just the start of a long and bloody war” and called for immediate steps to cut off arms flows fuelling the fighting.

Read More: Libya in chaos since 2011 overthrow of Kadhafi

Addressing the Security Council in New York, Ghassan Salame said “many countries” were supplying weapons to the UN-recognised government in Tripoli and to forces led by Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) is backed in particular by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. His forces initially moved fast against Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) after launching his assault on April 4.

But they were stopped outside the capital by a GNA counterattack, with neither side making progress even as fighting flared this week.

The weeks of fighting have killed 510 people and wounded 2,467, according to the latest toll from the World Health Organization. More than 75,000 people have fled their homes, according to the United Nations, while 100,000 are trapped by the conflict.

AFP with additional input by GVS news desk.