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

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.


Troops halt Lebanese ‘revolution bus’ over security concerns

Lebanese anti-government protesters flash victory signs as they head to the south of Lebanon on a 'revolution' bus from central Beirut on November 16, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 17 November 2019

Troops halt Lebanese ‘revolution bus’ over security concerns

  • The protest convoy is aiming to reach Nabatieh and Tyre, two cities that have challenged Hezbollah and the Amal Movement in southern Lebanon during weeks of unrest

BEIRUT: A Lebanese “revolution bus” traveling from north to south to unite protesters was halted by troops outside the city of Sidon on Saturday.
The army set up a road block to prevent the bus and a large protest convoy entering Sidon, the third-largest city in the country.
Local media said that the decision had been made to defuse tensions in the area following widespread protests.
Lebanese troops blocked the Beirut-South highway at the Jiyeh-Rumailah checkpoint over “security concerns,” a military source told Arab News.
“Some people in Sidon objected to the crossing of the bus and we feared that problems may take place,” the source added.
A protester in Ilya Square in Sidon said: “Those who do not want the bus to enter Sidon should simply leave the square because there are many who want to welcome the bus.”
The army allowed the bus to enter the town of Rumailah, 2 km from Sidon. “The bus will stop here after nightfall because of security fears and the risk of an accident,” the military source said.
The protest convoy is aiming to reach Nabatieh and Tyre, two cities that have challenged Hezbollah and the Amal Movement in southern Lebanon during weeks of unrest.
Activists said the protest bus “is spreading the idea of a peaceful revolution by unifying the people.”
“The pain is the same from the far north of Lebanon to the south and the only flag raised is the Lebanese flag,” one activist said.
Organizers of the protest convoy rejected claims that the cities of Sidon, Nabatieh and Tyre were reluctant to welcome the bus, and voiced their respect for the Lebanese army decision.

After leaving Akkar the bus passed through squares that witnessed protests in Tripoli, Batroun, Jbeil, Zouk Mosbeh, Jal El Dib and Beirut. Protesters chanted “Revolution” and lined the route of the convoy, turning it into a “procession of the revolution.”
The bus paused in Khalde, where the first victim of the protests, Alaa Abu Fakhr, was shot and killed a few days ago by a Lebanese soldier. The victim’s widow and family welcomed the convoy and protesters laid wreaths at the site of the shooting.
Activists’ tweets on Saturday claimed that life in Beirut’s southern suburbs is as difficult as in other areas of Lebanon.
“As a Shiite girl living in the heart of the southern suburbs, I deny that we are living well and not suffering. We are in a worse position than the rest of the regions,” said an activist who called herself Ruanovsky.
“No one is doing well,” said Wissam Abdallah. “The suburbs have external security and safety, but unfortunately there is a lot of corruption. There are forged car van plates, motorcycle mafia, Internet and satellite mafia, royalties mafia, and hashish and drugs mafia. Municipalities have to deal with these things as soon as possible.”