Conflict

41 Libyan MPs stand firmly against violence in Tripoli

North Africa

Libyans lawmakers from both the eastern- and western-based governments held a session to condemn Libyan General Khalifa Haftar's assault on the Libyan capital Tripoli.

41 Members of Parliament from the House of Representatives (HoR) government based in Tobruk, eastern Libya, have come out in opposition to the military offensive launched by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, head of the Libya National Army (LNA), on Tripoli.

In their first official gathering in western Libya, the Parliamentarians from the HoR gathered in the Libyan capital to demonstrate their stance against the military offensive that is aimed at the rival Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).

The gathering in Tripoli was led by Al-Sadiq Al-Kahili, who was recently voted to be temporary head of the Parliament based in Tobruk. He stated the following in his speech: “We are gathered here today with our colleagues from all over the country to put an end to the destruction caused by the unjustified war on the capital. We are gathered here to demonstrate our stance against the conflict.”

A separate gathering was held in the city of Benghazi bringing together supporters of Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli. The recent war on Tripoli has thus exposed a fissure within the HoR with one side supporting the continuation of the political peace process while the other urges on a military solution to the political impasse.

A number of HoR MPs opposing the military offensive have made statements on the matter.

Salim Qannan, an MP from the north-western city of Nahut, claimed that several members of the HoR were not aware of Haftar’s plans to launch an offensive on Tripoli. He added that members from his government were prepared to participate in the UN-led National Conference in Ghadames set to take place in mid-April, which was eventually postponed as a result of the LNA advance on Tripoli.

MP Muhammad Huneysh asserted that the military units advancing under Haftar’s orders have destroyed the peace process and are seeking to take power by force on their own.

Jalal al-Shuweyhdi, an MP from Benghazi, stressed that Libya must avoid turning into a military state and instead should possess a civil character, clearly opposing the strong military influence of Haftar and the army under his control.

The recent conflict and the ensuing political divisions have also had a geopolitical element. Haftar and the LNA are supported by neighbouring Egypt and also the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Their stated goal is to eliminate “terrorists” in Libya, although critics have stated that their support for Haftar has stoked the conflict. On the other hand, political figures such as Salih Afhima have directed criticism at Qatar for creating political divisions in the HoR by supporting the MP protest against Haftar.

France has also been involved in Libyan affairs as it has offered support to Haftar and the LNA, running counter to the dictates of the UN, which supports the GNA. Despite France’s support of Haftar, French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has called for a ceasefire and an end to the LNA’s military advance.

Haftar ordered his forces to advance towards Tripoli in early April following a series of military and territorial gains made by the LNA over the past few months. The ensuing conflict in Tripoli has led to detrimental consequences as thousands of residents have fled the city and its outskirts amid military clashes, deteriorating humanitarian conditions and a fear of a protracted conflict.