Libyan former military chief arrested after 'calling for coup'

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Libyan former military chief arrested after 'calling for coup'

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Protests have taken place in Tripoli’s Martyrs Square, with demonstrators angry at the decision by Libya’s interim parliament to extend the country’s post-revolutionary transition period.

The parliament, known as the General National Congress (GNC), will now have an extra year to organise a fresh constitution and new elections.

Amidst this, a video was released in which Libya’s former military chief, Khalifa Haftar, called for parliament to be suspended and the armed forces to “rescue” the country.

The major general was a leading figure in the 2011 revolution against former leader Muammar Gaddafi. In the video, he suggested that a presidential committee should govern until new elections, calling this a “road map”, rather than a coup bid.

Government officials brushed aside Haftar’s statement, saying he has no backing within Libya’s armed forces.

It is unclear how much influence he actually holds.

Haftar has now been arrested and the current army chief, Abdelsalam Jadallah, was keen to stress his support for the GNC.

“They are taking advantage of this political unrest to rule the country illegally,” he said. “But the state’s forces and the revolutionaries will stand against any military power that plans to overthrow the parliament or the government by force.”

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan dismissed rumours that a coup had already taken place as “ridiculous,” saying that Haftar is now retired.