Libya prime minister sets sights on Tripoli

19 October 2014

Al-Thani says pro-government forces will attempt to take control of capital

Libya’s Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani has stated that military forces loyal to the country’s democratically elected paliament, the House of Representatives, are planning to take control of Tripoli, the nation’s capital.

“All military forces have been placed under army command to liberate Tripoli and Benghazi soon,” he told news agency AFP on 18 October.

Libya’s capital has been under the control of the General National Congress (GNC), a rival parliament backed by a coalition of Islamist-led militias, since August, when pro-government militias were defeated in a battle over Tripoli’s international airport.

The latest hawkish statements from Al-Thani come amid growing concerns that the House of Representatives could lose control of the country’s oil infrastructure and the National Oil Company (NOC) after the GNC announced its own oil policies from its Tripoli headquarters earlier this week.

Military operations to attempt to take control of Benghazi, Libya’s second city, have already started.

The campaign is being led by former army general Khalifa Haftar and was launched on 15 October.

Haftar is under orders of the House of Representatives, according to Al-Thani.

Previously, Haftar has led military operations without the backing of the central government, something that has led to criticism from the international community.

In the wake of the latest operation in Benghazi, the US, the UK, France, Germany and Italy all called for an immediate end to the fighting in Libya.

In a joint statement released late on 18 October, the countries voiced concerns over Haftar’s operations and said Libya’s “fight against terrorist organisations can only be sustainably addressed by regular armed forces under the control of a central authority”.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has also called on Haftar to stop his operations.

The House of Representatives is currently based on a cruise ship in the small port city of Tobruk due to concerns about militia attacks from groups operating in Tripoli and Benghazi.

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