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Burdened by heavy military losses in western region, Haftar appeals to people to mandate him as the leader of Libya

Desperate as he seemed and overburdened by the year-long losses of military supplies and fighters, Khalifa Haftar appealed in a televised statement to his staunch followers and supporters to mandate “whomever they see fit” for ruling Libya, calling on them to topple over the Presidential Council, which his forces couldn’t defeat over a year of fighting on the outskirts of Tripoli.

In what appeared to be a previously-recorded video statement, Haftar appealed passionately and desperately to Libyans to take to the streets and announce the end of the ruling of Presidential Council and the Un-brokered Government of National Accord, asking them to mandate the military (himself and his sons) to rule Libya and pave the way to what he said would be the appointment of new constitution drafting committee to write a new constitution and pave the way for elections.

Many critics interpreted Haftar’s statement as an admission of military defeat agaisnt the Government of National Accord, which they said obliged him and his supporters: UAE and Egypt, to buy more time by shifting the focus on a new initiative, which is based on Haftar’s appeal to Libyans to oust the GNA and mandate his military institution to rule the country.

Counter-initiative

However, this time, Haftar’s followers seemed in division as the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Tobruk Aqila Saleh said, just an hour before Haftar’s appeal to Libyans, that he wanted propose a new roadmap that starte with removing the Libyan Political Agreement signed in Skhirat, Morocco on December 17, 2015 and replace it with a regional initiative that sees the appointment of a new Presidential Council with three members each from a region of the three Libyan regions: Cyrenaica, Fezzan, and Tripoli.

Saleh’s initiative looks away from the whole work of the last five years since the brokering of the Government of National Accord and its Presidential Council, proposing to create a new Presidential Council based on just regional preferences, which consolidates the idea of fragmentation in Libya.

Supporters on Streets

In a very simplistic manner of thinking and maid a curfew due to the Coronavirus pandemic, tens of Haftar’s followers and supporters took to streets in different eastern region cities and towns, calling for ” mandating Haftar to rule Libya and for giving Haftar the legitimate authority to be the leader of the country, in what appeared as another episode in one of Muammar Gaddafi’s sagas.

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