Libya’s unity government rejects Haftar’s truce offer

TRIPOLI (AFP) – Libya’s United Nations (UN)-recognised government on Thursday rejected a truce unilaterally called the day before by military strongman Khalifa Haftar, saying it “did not trust” its eastern-based rival.

The move follows successes on the ground for forces loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against Haftar’s troops in recent weeks, just over a year since he launched an offensive on the capital.

The GNA said in a statement that it did not trust Haftar, who controls the east and swathes of southern Libya, accusing him of violating previous truces.

“These violations make it so we do not trust truce announcements (from Haftar),” the GNA said.

Any “ceasefire needs to have international safeguards and mechanisms” to monitor its implementation and to document violations, it added. Haftar’s camp had said on Wednesday it would cease hostilities for the duration of Ramadhan in response to international calls for a truce.

On April 24, the UN, European Union (EU) and several countries called for both sides to lay down their arms during the holy month, which began in Libya that day.

The oil-rich North African nation has been gripped by chaos since the 2011 ouster and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Gadhafi, with rival administrations in the east and west vying for power.

“The commander general announces the halting of military operations from his side,” Ahmad al-Mesmari, a spokesman for Haftar, had declared on Wednesday from the eastern city of Benghazi.

He warned violations by the GNA would be met with an “immediate and harsh response”.