Libyan prime minister calls for elections in 2019 to end war

Libyans rally in Tripoli in support of Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who began an armed campaign to ‘bring stability’ to the nation. (AFP)
Updated 17 June 2019
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Libyan prime minister calls for elections in 2019 to end war

  • Al-Sarraj proposes a ‘Libyan forum’ aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the conflict
  • Sarraj said his proposed initiative would take place with support from the UN mission in Libya

CAIRO: The head of Libya’s UN-supported government on Sunday proposed holding nationwide elections to end the war in the North African country, as the forces of the rival military commander Khalifa Haftar continue their two-month-long battle to take the capital, Tripoli. Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj told a news conference in Tripoli, the seat of his administration, that he is proposing a “Libyan forum” aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the conflict. The talks would draw up a road map for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held before the end of 2019.
There are fears that the battle for Tripoli could ignite a civil war on the scale of the violence after the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Libya is divided between the weak government of Al-Sarraj in the west, and Field Marshal Haftar, whose self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) holds the east and much of the south. Haftar opened a military offensive on the capital in early April, advancing on the city’s southern outskirts and clashing with militias loosely affiliated with the UN-recognized government.
Haftar has presented himself as a strong hand who can restore stability. In recent years, his campaign against militants across Libya has won him growing international support from world leaders who say they are concerned the North African country has turned into a haven for armed groups, and a major conduit for migrants bound for Europe. His opponents view him as an aspiring autocrat and fear a return to one-man rule.
Al-Sarraj said all Libyans who “call for a peaceful and democratic solution” would take part in his proposed talks. He called on the UN to support the forum and to oversee elections.
He did not say whether Haftar or his representatives would be included. The two sides last held talks in the UAE in February.

HIGHLIGHT

Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar has presented himself as a strong hand who can restore stability. In recent years, his campaign against militants across Libya has won him growing international support from world leaders.

Al-Sarraj also demanded an international probe into alleged “war crimes and crimes against humanity,” since Haftar launched his offensive. The fighting for Tripoli has killed over 650 people, including combatants and civilians, according the World Health Organization.
A spokesman for Haftar did not immediately answer phone calls and messages seeking comment.
Haftar’s forces meanwhile pursued Daesh militants in the country’s south, killing more than a dozen militants over the past three days, officials said on Sunday.
The officials said that LNA forces began its attack on a militant hideout in the mountainous area of Haruj earlier this week. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Daesh acknowledged the ongoing LNA attack and claimed to have killed and wounded dozens of LNA troops.
The group was driven from Sirte in 2016 and from Derna, another stronghold, earlier this year. However, the extremists have found refuge in the vast deserts of central and southern Libya, where they continue to stage attacks.


Iraqi forces launch anti-Daesh operation north of Baghdad

Updated 26 min 53 sec ago
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Iraqi forces launch anti-Daesh operation north of Baghdad

  • The mainly Shiite PMF have been an effective force against Daesh
  • This is the second phase of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory”

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s military said Saturday its troops in partnership with security agencies and paramilitary forces launched the second phase of an operation aimed at clearing remnants of the Daesh group from north of Baghdad and surrounding areas.
This is the second phase of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory,” which started two weeks earlier and targeted the area along the border with Syria. The military said the new target area is north of Baghdad and in the Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar provinces.
Although Iraq declared victory against Daesh in July 2017, the extremists have turned into an insurgency and continue to carry out deadly attacks in the country.
The military said Iraqi troops, Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, the federal police and others are taking part in the operation supported by the Iraqis and the U.S-led international coalition.
On Saturday, Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi visited the operation room alongside the deputy head of the PMF, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.
Earlier this month, the Iraqi government moved to place the Iranian-backed militias under the command of the armed forces. The move was believed to be an attempt to curb the powerful militias, particularly amid rising tension between Iran and the US, the power brokers in Iraq.
The mainly Shiite PMF have been an effective force against Daesh and are a significant political force, with government ministers and 48 seats in the 329-member parliament.