Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, General Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), paid a surprise visit on Monday to the city of Kufra, located in south-eastern Libya, where he met with community leaders and army soldiers placed there.
In a speech during the visit’s ceremony, Haftar emphasized that “we did not build an army to stand by and watch Libya dragged into the abyss by abusers,” noting that the decisive solution “is in the hands of the people and they must lead the scene by themselves to recover their rights and build their state.”
The remarks of the 78-year-old army leader comes few days after the capital Tripoli witnessed deadly clashes between rival armed groups, which resulted in the killing of at least 32 people with 159 wounded, according to the Health Ministry.
The clashes involved armed groups that back Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh’s government, against forces of Fathi Bashagha, who was selected as interim premier by Libya’s House of Representatives last February after Dbeibeh failed to organize national elections in December 2021 as per the UN-led peace plan.
Dbeibeh refuses to relinquish power, but remains recognized as Libya’s leader by the international community, leading to political deadlock over which executive authority has claim to legitimacy.
Haftar, who was appointed commander of the armed forces by the House in March 2015, supports Bashagha. Despite the latter’s abortive attempts to forcefully enter Tripoli using armed groups based in the west, Haftar’s forces did not participate in a full scale military intervention to back the parliament-appointed premier. However, in his Kufra speech on Monday, Haftar indicated that this may no longer be the case.
“We, the people and the army, have to rectify the situation before it is too late, just as we have remedied together the danger of terrorism,” he said.
Haftar also emphasized that the Libyan people must also take initiative to address the country’s crisis.
“No one but the people themselves will save Libya, untie it and build its road map, and we will protect it,” he said.