Interim gov’t denounces appointment of Ali Kena as commander in southern region

The Libyan Interim Government denounced the Presidency Council’s decision to appoint Ali Kena as a new Commander of Sabha Military Region, according to a Wednesday statement.

The statement said Kena occupied the same position under Muammer Gaddafi’s rule until the National Transitional Council, the de facto government of Libya for 10 months between 2011 and 2012, relieved him from his duties.

The east-based government also noted that the Presidency Council sent a civilian plane to el-Feel oilfield in the southern region although the Libyan National Army banned on Friday all flights in the area without its authorization.

A jet from Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces intercepted the plane on Sunday as part of its push to control the oil-rich south and consolidate its military operation in the south.

The Presidency Council “bears full responsibility” for the consequences of these violations, the statement said, adding that such actions may lead to violent conflicts and further delay national consensus.

The interim government, which backs Haftar, continued to denounce the statement of Libya’s Ambassador to the UN Security Council Al-Mahdi Al-Mijrbi, which labeled the military operation at el-Feel oilfield a “terrorist act” that violates the international law.

There have been two major factions on the ground since 2014; one led by Haftar, commander of the LNA who now controls the eastern side of Libya in cooperation with the interim government of the House of Representatives (HoR), also known as the Tobruk government. The interim government lost international recognition to Faiez Sarraj’s government in Tripoli in 2016, but the HoR still enjoys recognition.

Since 15 January, the LNA has been conducting military operations in southern Libya to liberate the region from terrorist organizations and armed groups, as officially announced. The army nearly liberated Sabha from armed groups and headed to el-Sharara oilfield.

However, Sarraj denounced the operation and called on the LNA to halt the operation to preserve the safety of civilians. Then, he appointed Kena as a new Commander of Sabha Military Region to control Sharara, Libya’s largest oilfield, but Haftar’s forces were positioned there first.


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