- Title: LIBYA: Libyan renegade general challenges government
- Date: 22nd May 2014
- Summary: ABYAR, LIBYA (MAY 21, 2014) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF RENEGADE LIBYAN GENERAL, KHALIFA HAFTAR, ARRIVING AT NEWS CONFERENCE LIBYAN FLAG LIBYAN RENEGADE GENERAL, KHALIFA HAFTAR, SAYING: "Following the refusal by the expired national council to meet the people's demands .... the high council of the armed forces call on the high judicial council in charge to meet the army's demand for civil and political stability in Libya and ask them to form a high council to rule the country." HAFTAR DEPARTING NEWS CONFERENCE AND SHAKING HANDS WITH FOLLOWERS
- Embargoed: 6th June 2014 13:00
- Location: Libya
- Country: Libya
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA5DTX1L5U1LZ7WF43WNB3YEEPB
- Story Text: A Libyan renegade general called on the government to hand over power to the country's top judges, mounting a challenge against Tripoli as heavy fighting erupted in the capital on Wednesday (May 21).
Western powers fear a call by General Khalifa Haftar for army units to join his campaign will split the nascent military and trigger more turmoil as the country struggles to restore order three years after the fall of strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
The government is unable to control the militias who helped oust Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed 2011 uprising but are now defying authority.
"The high council of the armed forces call on the high judicial council in charge to meet the army's demand for civil and political stability in Libya and ask them to form a high council to rule the country," said the retired general, dressed in uniform and surrounded by senior officers.
The council is independent and is one of the few state bodies respected by Libyans tired of anarchy and militias.
Haftar said government and parliament had lost any legitimacy because they were unable to purge the OPEC producer of extremists roaming around unchallenged.
His campaign got a boost after Libya's top air defence commander declared support for his campaign which kicked off on Friday with a strike against Ansar Sharia and other militant groups in the eastern city of Benghazi.
Tripoli residents reported several loud explosions early on Wednesday near the al-Yarmouk air defence barracks after air defence top commander Juma al-Abani released a video message saying he was joining "Operation Dignity", Haftar's campaign against Islamists.
Heavy fighting involving anti-aircraft machine guns mounted on trucks also broke out overnight near an army camp in Tajoura, an eastern suburb, witnesses said. The city was quiet by dawn.
At least two people from Mali died in the fighting, a health ministry source said.
Compounding the political chaos, state news agency LANA said on Wednesday the interior ministry had also joined Haftar's campaign, a report that was dismissed minutes later by the acting interior minister.
Libya has been plunged into turmoil since its 2011 uprising ended Muammar Gaddafi's one-man rule.
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