U.N. to hold Libya conference as planned despite surge in fighting: envoy

TRIPOLI/BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) – The United Nations is set to hold Libya’s nationwide conference on doable elections on time despite japanese forces’ advance on the capital Tripoli in an escalation of the battle, a senior U.N. envoy stated on Saturday.

The U.N. Envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, speaks throughout a information conference in Tripoli, Libya April 6, 2019. REUTERS/Hani Amara

G7 overseas ministers warned japanese Libyan army commander Khalifa Haftar to halt his thrust on Tripoli, menacing the internationally acknowledged authorities based mostly there, or face doable worldwide motion.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) stated on Friday its forces had superior into the capital’s southern outskirts and brought its former worldwide airport. Its spokesman Ahmed Mismari stated 14 LNA troops had been killed to this point

The offensive by the LNA, which is allied to a parallel administration based mostly in the primary japanese metropolis of Benghazi, intensifies an influence wrestle that has fractured the oil-producing nation for the reason that 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

The United Nations goals to stage a conference in the southwestern city of Ghadames on April 14-16 to weigh elections as a method in a foreign country’s extended factional anarchy, which has seen Islamist militants set up a toehold in some areas.

Ghassan Salame, the U.N. particular envoy to Libya, stated he was striving to forestall the brand new disaster from getting uncontrolled. “We have worked for one year for this national conference, we won’t give up this political work quickly,” he stated.

“We know that holding the conference in this difficult time of escalation and fighting is a difficult matter. But we are determined to hold it on time unless compelling circumstances force us not to,” he informed reporters in Tripoli.

The Tripoli-based Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, who depends on numerous armed teams, stated Haftar’s transfer was a coup.

“He (Haftar) will find in us only steadfastness and strength from all those are coming from all over the country to defend Libyans’ dream of a civil sovereign state,” he stated in a televised speech.

At a G7 assembly in France, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stated he and his counterparts had agreed they have to exert strain on these chargeable for the upsurge of preventing in Libya, particularly Haftar.

Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi stated the G7 assertion “should be seen as an appeal to General Haftar to consider with a sense of responsibility peaceful solutions for stabilizing Libya under the UN umbrella.”

Russia additionally known as for restraint, saying Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov informed Haftar that Moscow continues to insist on a political resolution to “disputed issues” in Libya.

Haftar informed Bogdanov about what he described as efforts to struggle terrorists in Libya, together with close to Tripoli, in accordance to the Russian Foreign Ministry.


The United Nations desires to discover settlement on a street map for elections to resolve the protracted instability in Libya, an necessary oil exporter and transit level for refugees and migrants trekking throughout the Sahara with the target of reaching Europe throughout the Mediterranean Sea to the north.

In Cairo on Saturday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stated the disaster couldn’t be settled by army means, although insecurity in Libya had lengthy been a supply of fear.

At a information conference alongside Shoukry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated Moscow wished all political forces in Libya to strike an settlement in help of peace and warned towards overseas meddling there.

There had been no experiences of serious preventing on Saturday.

Haftar’s LNA stated on Saturday its positions had been attacked in an air strike south of Tripoli however there have been no casualties.

Haftar, 75, who casts himself as a foe of Islamist extremism however is seen by opponents as a brand new dictator in the mould of Gaddafi, was quoted by Al-Arabiya TV as telling Guterres his offensive would proceed till terrorism was defeated.

A former officer in Gaddafi’s military, Haftar enjoys the backing of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which see him as a bulwark towards Islamists and have supported him militarily, in accordance to U.N. experiences. The UAE, nevertheless, joined Western nations in expressing its deep concern concerning the preventing.

In the previous, Haftar has struck offers with armed factions exterior Tripoli to advance his forces. But gaining management of Tripoli – the final word prize for Haftar’s japanese parallel authorities – could be much more difficult.

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Armed teams allied to the Tripoli authorities have moved extra machinegun-mounted pickup vans from Misrata to Tripoli to defend it towards Haftar’s forces. The metropolis is understood for a spirit of resisting “old regime” figures, developed throughout 2011 when pro-Gaddafi forces besieged it for 3 months.

The LNA says it has 85,000 males however this consists of troopers paid by the central authorities that it hopes to inherit. Its elite drive, Saiqa (Lightning), numbers some three,500, whereas Haftar’s sons even have well-equipped troops, LNA sources say.

In 2014, he assembled former Gaddafi troopers and in a three-year battle seized Benghazi. This 12 months, he took management of Libya’s south with its oilfields.

Additional reporting by Ahmed Tolba and Ulf Laessing in Cairo, John Irish in Dinard, France, Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow, Michael Georgy in Dubai and Giselda Vagnoni in Rome; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Alexandra Hudson

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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