UN Libya envoy says he spoke with Haftar, quashing death reports

UN Libya envoy says he spoke with Haftar, quashing death reports
2 min read
15 April, 2018
The general's death or incapacitation could cause further upheaval in a country that has been mired in a civil war since May 2014.
Libyan PM Fayez al-Sarraj, French President Emmanuel Macron and General Haftar in Paris [Getty]
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya said that the Libyan envoy Ghassan Salame spoke with General Khalifa Haftar on the telephone, ending rumours on Friday of the strongman's death.

Earlier in the week, Haftar reportedly collapsed while on an official visit to Amman. He was promptly evacuated to Paris and reportedly fell into a coma. Various media reported on Friday that Haftar had died. 

The self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), which Haftar commands, has repeatedly stated the general is in good health. On Tuesday, Haftar's LNA spokesman said on his official page that Haftar is in "excellent health".

Ahmad al-Mismari then avoided the topic of Haftar's health during his weekly press conference on Wednesday. "Libyans should not be dragged into rumours spread by the Muslim Brotherhood," he said.

The UN in Libya tweeted on Friday that Salame spoke with Haftar and discussed the latest political developments.

Haftar's absence, or speculation about his health, could cause further upheaval in the already chaotic Libyan political situation. Libya has been mired in violence since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled and killed the longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The country is currently divided between a UN-backed government in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, and a rival administration backed by Haftar in the east.

France has embraced Haftar in recent years. Last year, French President Emmanuel Macron brokered a meeting between Haftar and Fayez al-Serraj, the prime minister of the rival Government of National Accord (GNA). The two were seen shaking hands and agreed to hold elections.

Haftar has refused to accept the legitimacy of Serraj's internationally-recognised government based in Tripoli. His forces are backed by Russia, Egypt and the UAE.

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