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Libya's PM says rebel general ‘not a partner for peace’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Libya’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj speaks at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, the US, on September 25, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

Libya’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj has ruled out any more peace talks with renegade general Khalifa Haftar, who is commanding an offensive on the capital, denouncing him as a “war criminal.”

Serraj made the remarks while addressing the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

“We repeat that we will not sit once again with the war criminal Haftar. He is not a partner for peace,” Serraj said, adding that Haftar and his allied forces were “coup plotters” responsible for the continued instability in Libya.

“Haftar is trying to promote a war between east and west Libya. This is false. There are no differences in Libya, neither religious nor social. The truth is it’s between a military state and a civilian state,” he said.

Serraj’s internationally recognized government is based in western Libya, and a rival camp also laying claim to power is in the east. The eastern-based body is supported by an array of militia under Haftar’s command.

The 75-year-old renegade general ordered his militia groups to invade the Libyan capital of Tripoli in a hitherto unsuccessful attempt to seize it on April 4. Almost five months after launching the offensive, Haftar’s forces remain locked in a stalemate against groups defending the government on Tripoli’s southern outskirts.

Haftar has defied a truce call by the UN, ordering his militia not to relent in their offensive. He is supported by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. France also offers him some political support.

According to the latest figures by the World Health Organization (WHO), the fighting around Tripoli has killed at least 1,093 people and wounded 5,752 other, while some 120,000 people have been displaced.

Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising and an ensuing NATO intervention in which longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed. Haftar’s offensive has exacerbated the crisis, threatening to plunge the country into full-blown civil war.

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