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"Foreign interference" has prolonged the crisis in Libya, Prime Minister tells Euronews

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By Euronews
"Foreign interference" has prolonged the crisis in Libya, Prime Minister tells Euronews

Fayez al Sarraj, Prime minister of Libya's United Nations-backed Government of National Accord, has told Euronews that "foreign interference" since the fall of General Muammar al-Gaddafi eight years ago had damaged the country and prolonged its crises.

Mr al Serraj has also said that Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, leader of the self-styled Libyan National Army, is actually a terrorist in charge of "criminal gangs"

He said he was certain that his recent meetings with European leaders to convince them of what he considered the truth of the situation in Libya had been successful:

"We met leaders of European Union countries to clarify with them the truth about what is happening in Tripoli and the aggression we are facing.

"Our attacker had given excuses to justify this assault, but now I believe there is an understanding of what is really going on. We clarified the repercussions of these attacks, the terrorist activities and the humanitarian dimension, the displaced people."

Mr al Sarraj is convinced he got his message across:

"I think it was clear from the meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the EU in Brussels, Federica Mogherini and also with Donald Tusk (President of the European Council) that we achieved our aim.

"Their responses were very clear: they condemned the offensive on Tripoli and denounced what Hafter’s militia have been doing. They also understood the impact that this has had in terms of terrorist activities and illegal migration."

Asked if he had been promised military support too, he said this was not the purpose of this diplomatic initiative:

"When we travelled to these countries for these meetings, our objective was not to get weapons or military equipment. There is an arms embargo on Libya at the moment and on the Government of National Accord.

"One thing we clarified in our meetings was that this embargo needs to be enforced on all sides. But what’s happened is actually the opposite: our opponents have been supplied with all kind of weapons and equipment day and night through land and sea borders. And to make matters worse, this was from countries we considered our allies."

Mr al Serraj believes that this military support has convinced Hafter that he can complete a coup and has dissuaded him from a diplomatic path.

Asked if foreign powers intervening in Libya had made the situation there worse, he said he was certain that it had;

"The negative interference from other countries since 2011 has made the political and security situation more complicated and has prolonged the crises.

"We made that view very clear in our meetings. We hope foreign powers stop interfering in Libya. We need to get back to a political path which will lead us to stability and security.

He disputed that Hafter enjoyed US President Donald Trump's support, or even that the telephone call Hafter claims to have had with the president was real:

"That call never happened. Furthermore, we have read the position of the United States through the statements of the US State Department; Mike Pompeo made it clear by calling things by their real name. He called our opponents 'Hafter’s militia'.

"And I think what is going on now in terms of human rights violations has become clear to everybody – the recruiting of child soldiers, disrespecting dead bodies, the targeting of civilians. I think it is now clear to all parties, including the USA.

"The Government of National Accord was and is an advocate of peace. We see the solution in Libya as a political solution - not a military one."

Mr al Serraj insisted the Government of National Accord was Libya's best option:

"Khalifa Hafter has claimed he has a legitimate army, but it's now clear that's not the truth.

"His forces consist of criminal groups and he has tried to convince the rest of the world that they are a professional army.

"Hafter tried to invade our capital and tricked some by saying he could take the capital in 48 or 72 hours, but now more than 50 days have passed and the repercussions of this attack are starting to become clear: the displacement of 100,000 people, many more killed or severely injured.

"If our attacker halts his operations, then we could speak about continuing the political process and find agreement."