Haftar refuses orders from Libya govt in defiant speech
Rogue Libyan General Khalifa Haftar on Monday announced that his self-styled "Libyan National Army" would not "take orders from any government not elected by the Libyan people" and revealed a series of political and military appointments, in a new challenge to Libya's Government of National Unity (GNU).
The GNU came to power on an interim basis in March following an October 2020 peace agreement between Libya’s former Tripoli-based Government of National Accord and a rival unrecognised administration allied with Haftar and based in eastern Libya.
It is tasked with unifying the two rival former governments’ institutions and preparing for elections to be held in December.
Haftar has reportedly demanded that the GNU pay off debts accrued by his forces in return for cooperation and so far has refused to place the "Libyan National Army" under the GNU's command.
He has also prevented Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dbeibah from visiting eastern Libya.
In a speech given at the Beninah military base in eastern Libya to mark the 81st anniversary of the formation of the Libyan army, Haftar also appointed Abdullah al-Thinni, who was prime minister of the administration allied with him, as head of his self-styled army's "political administration" and gave him the rank of general.
In addition, the rogue military leader announce the promotion of three military officers to the rank of general and appointed commanders for his land, naval, and air forces and three military districts.
Haftar said that his forces would "remain strong despite all the conspiracies and plots prepared skilfully by the deceivers… in the name of civilian [rule]".
The appointments came two days after Libya's presidential council said that it was the only authority in the country which could promote officers, according to the October 2020 peace agreement.
Haftar's speech provoked an angry reaction from Libyan politicians.
Abdel Razzaq Al-Aradi, a member of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum said on Twitter that Haftar's speech had "turned talk of holding elections in December into a kind of nonsense", adding that he believed the rogue general would only recognise election results "if he won".
The Libyan Higher Council of State issued a statement following Haftar's speech emphasising the importance of "unifying the true army and supporting and strengthening it on national lines" and establishing "a professional military institution which protects the state” while denouncing attempts to “take the country back to square one".