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Libya’s UN-backed government rejects strongman Haftar’s unilateral ceasefire

A Libyan man stands at the site of shelling on the residential area of Arada in the capital Tripoli on April 14, 2020
A Libyan man stands at the site of shelling on the residential area of Arada in the capital Tripoli on April 14, 2020 Mahmud TURKIA AFP/File

Libya's 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.

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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 during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in response to international calls for a truce.

Last week, the UN, EU and several countries called for both sides to lay down their arms during the holy month.

Announcement comes after military setbacks

Haftar’s truce announcement came after his forces suffered a series of setbacks in recent weeks, with GNA forces ousting them from two key coastal cities west of Tripoli.

Backed by Turkey, GNA troops are now encircling Haftar's main rear base at Tarhunah, 60 kilometres (39 miles) southeast of the capital.

Since launching an offensive to seize Tripoli last April, several cease-fires between Haftar's forces and the GNA have fallen through, with both sides accusing the other of violations.

Haftar's opponents accuse him of wanting to establish a new military dictatorship in the country.

On Monday he claimed he had "a popular mandate" to govern, declaring a key 2015 political deal over and vowing to press his assault to seize Tripoli.

The oil-rich North African nation has been gripped by chaos since the ouster and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

EYE ON AFRICA 20202804
EYE ON AFRICA 20202804 © FRANCE 24
General Haftar claims he has 'mandate of the people' to govern Libya

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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