Libya's capital remains on high alert following parliament attacks Sunday

Published May 19th, 2014 - 07:11 GMT
Libya's parliament was attacked earlier this year by several rebel militant groups in protest of the central government's weak leadership and corrupt practices (File Archive/AFP)
Libya's parliament was attacked earlier this year by several rebel militant groups in protest of the central government's weak leadership and corrupt practices (File Archive/AFP)

Libya's capital is on high alert Monday following Sunday's attack on the parliament in which rebel brigades led by a former general stormed the General National Congress, according to the Associated Press.

Ex-general Khalifa Haftar led the rebel brigades to attack the congress using anti-aircraft guns and mortars in a sign mean to challenge "the legitimacy of the country's weak central government." 

Haftar and his followers announced an offensive earlier this year in which they are attempting to oust all "Islamic terrorists" from the country in what is seen by Tripoli as a direct challenge to the central government's authority. 

Hours after the attack, a representative from Haftar's group issued a public statement over Libyan television saying that the rebel group had appointed a new 60-member assembly to "take over for the parliament" as part of its battle for "the people's choice."

"We announce to the world that the country can't be a breeding ground or an incubator for terrorism," said the Haftar spokesman. 

Tripoli's leadership dismissed the statment and is "ignoring" the declaration of the new Haftar-installed parliament. 

"The government condemns the expression of political opinion through the use of armed force," Libyan Justice Minister Salah Al Marghani said in a statement. "It calls for an immediate end of the use the military arsenal ... and calls on all sides to resort to dialogue and reconciliation."

"Tentative calm" has reportedly returned to the restive Libyan capital as of Monday morning, and authorities "seemed determined to convery a message of business-as-usual" according to the AP report. 

Libya's central government has come under severe public scrutiny since its installment in 2011 following the overthrow of former dictator Moammar Gaddafi, with many people blaming Tripoli for the country's deteriorating security situation as well as corruption charges.

Haftar is a former general who defected from the Libyan army in the late 1980s. He spent his exile in the United States before returning to Libya in 2011 to participate in the uprising against Gaddafi. He is often suspected and accused of working with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.


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