Libya’s Haftar declares Skhirat agreement ‘a thing of the past’

“We will work to create the conditions for building permanent civic institutions,” he said.
Tuesday 28/04/2020
Field-Marshal Khalifa Haftar gives a televised speech, April 27. (AFP)
Field-Marshal Khalifa Haftar gives a televised speech, April 27. (AFP)

TUNIS - Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar on Monday declared the 2015 Skhirat political agreement between Libyan factions “a thing of the past,” and pledged his authorities would move towards creating a new government.

“The political agreement destroyed the country,” he said. “We will work to create the conditions for building permanent civic institutions.”

Field-Marshal Khalifa Haftar's LNA forces control most of eastern and southern Libya. The besieged administration in Tripoli led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj rules just a corner of the country’s west.

"We have followed your response to our call to announce the withdrawal from the suspicious political agreement, which has destroyed the country, and to mandate the ones you see to rise to power," Haftar declared Monday. "...At this time, we are proud that Libyans have tasked the LNA’s General Command with a historic mission in these exceptional circumstances to stop working within this political deal and make it a thing of the past."

In a televised speech broadcast April 23, Haftar had called on Libyans to push for the cancellation of the political agreement signed in the Moroccan city of Skhirat on December 17, 2015 under the supervision of the former United Nations' envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler, and which gave birth to the Presidential Council of the current GNA and the Supreme Council of State headed by Khaled al-Meshri, known to be close to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Despite a curfew imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, crowds thronged the streets of Benghazi following Haftar's speech and chanted slogans against the rival Tripoli administration.

Libyan Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh called last week for "a new roadmap to end the crisis in Libya." Saleh's proposed roadmap includes the formation of a new presidential council and a new government, the drafting of a constitution, followed by holding presidential and legislative elections, under the supervision of the United Nations.

Saleh's proposal stipulated that each of the country's three regions should choose its representatives for the Presidential Council, which will be headed by a president and two deputies who would be appointed by mutual consent or by secret ballot.

The Skhirat agreement bestows international legitimacy on the government of Sarraj but the latter has failed to unify the country. The agreement also acknowledges the House of Representatives based in Tobruk as the country’s official legislature and grants consultative powers to the previous parliament based in Tripoli. Haftar's new stance implicitly dismisses the House of Representatives.

The abrupt resignation of UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame earlier this year cast further doubt on the fate of the country's hamstrung political process.

Meanwhile, Haftar has ratcheted up his military campaign to seize Tripoli. Both sides have ignored calls by the UN and the West for a ceasefire so authorities can direct resources to the coronavirus pandemic.

(With news agencies)