Libya’s internationally recognized government ordered on Tuesday its military, led by renegade General Khalifa Haftar, to advance on the capital Tripoli and called for a civil disobedience there against armed Islamist groups.
Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani’s cabinet said in statement posted on Facebook that the armed forces have the green light to “liberate” Tripoli “and state institutions from the grip of armed groups.”
The cabinet also urged Tripoli residents to launch “a civil disobedience campaign until the arrival of the army.”
In an interview with AFP Saturday, Thani said military forces in the strife-torn country had united to try to recapture Tripoli and second city Benghazi from Islamist militias.
Islamist militias who have seized Tripoli and other parts of Libya have their own government and parliament.
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Their Prime Minister Omar al-Hasi met a Turkish envoy on Tuesday, in the first publicly known diplomatic meeting with a foreign representative.
Several high-profile foreign officials, among them U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, visited Tripoli and Tobruk this month but none its publicly know to have met Hasi.
Since a 2011 revolution that toppled longtime leader Muammar Qaddafi, interim authorities have failed to rebuild the regular army and had to rely on state-backed militias.
Thani’s government and the parliament elected in June have taken refuge in the country’s east to escape Fajr Libya, a coalition of militias that seized Tripoli at the end of August, driving out rival militiamen, and has set up a rival administration.
Commanders of Fajr Libya say they are not Islamists but rather “revolutionaries” working to “correct the revolutionary process.”
In the western town of Kekla, pro- and anti-government militias clashed on Tuesday with heavy weapons and rockets, an AFP photographer said.
According to the town’s mayor, Nureddin Meftah, more than 100 people have been killed and 300 wounded since pro-government militias from Zintan, southwest of Tripoli, attacked their pro-Fajr Libya rivals in Kekla on Oct. 11.
There was no independent confirmation of the casualty figures.