Tension in south hinder National Conference, elections in Libya: observers

Conflicting stances on the military operations in the southern region have created tension that hinders any development in the Libyan political scene, Mohammed al-Abani, the leader of the internationally supported Libyan National Conference, told Sputnik news Monday.

Noting that no date has been set for the National Conference or the elections, Abani said the Government of National Accord (GNA)’s stance on the military operations in the southern region is “strange and will lead to strife.”

Himself praising the operation to the south, Abani pointed out that it has alleviated the suffering of the southern citizens, who were subjected to attacks of armed groups, namely the Chadian opposition.

In another interview with 7D News on Wednesday, he claimed that local and international positions on Libya have changed in favor of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his efforts to impose security throughout Libya.

In 2018, head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Ghassan Salame declared that the National Conference is scheduled to be held in January 2019 to pave the way for the elections.

However, rival Libyan parties, one led by Haftar in the east and the other by Faiez Sarraj in Tripoli, have not reached consensus.

Instead of agreeing on the elections’ schedule to end the division, the two power rivals have continued to compete over power and oilfields, the main resource of the Libyan economy.

For his part, Sarraj criticized the military operation, launched 15 January by Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), saying it puts the lives of civilians in danger. However, he sent a military unit to the south’s el-Sharara oilfield in hopes he would beat Haftar’s forces thereto. The LNA landed at the field first, with the approval of local tribes, as proclaimed by its spokesperson Ahmed al-Mismari.

In the meantime, Haftar launched air strikes near el-Feel oilfield in southwestern Libya on Saturday, a few days after Sarraj appointed Ali Kena as the new Commander of Sabha Military Region in an attempt to control the south.

Abani and other observers believe the ongoing tension will keep delaying the National Conference and Libyan elections, which have already been postponed once and again for over a year.


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