AFRICANGLOBE – Libya‘s official Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni on Tuesday criticized the United States, Britain and European Union for failing to supply arms to his forces as they battle those of a rival government.
The tough comments come a day after Libya‘s elected parliament, allied to Thinni, suspended its participation in U.N.-sponsored talks to try to end the power struggle between the two rival administrations and assemblies.
Thinni has been confined to a rump state in the east since a rival faction called Libya Dawn seized the capital Tripoli last year, reinstating an old assembly known as the GNC and setting up a rival government.
Thinni and the House of Representatives, also based in the east, enjoy the recognition of world powers but anti-Western sentiment has been building up. Many normal people demand military support in the power struggle with Tripoli, four years after the NATO-backed ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.
“Libya Dawn is part of militant Islamists which get weapons, ammunition and supplies from all over the world,” he said. “But America and Britain have other ideas against the interest of the Libyan people.”
Libya is still under a U.N. arms embargo dating from the 2011 uprising, though the country is awash with weapons and dominated by armed factions.
Thinni has been facing pressure from army general Khalifa Haftar who has merged his forces with army troops in the east to fight militant groups. While the alliance has managed to win back some territory in Benghazi, Haftar has drawn criticism for calling in air strikes on civilian airports and seaports.
Frustrated with hardships in the east, where the conflict has made petrol, electricity and medicines scarce, protesters have demanded Thinni quit and hand power to a military council headed by Haftar.
Lawmakers did not name anyone but analysts expect Haftar to get the job. Some of his senior officers have already received official positions.
UPDATE: General Haftar To Be Appointed Libya’s Top Military Commander
The president of Libya’s elected parliament has proposed appointing army general Khalifa Haftar as top army commander, parliament’s spokesman said on Wednesday.
The decision shows the increasing influence of military figures in the official government and parliament, which has been forced to operate from eastern Libya since an armed group called Libya Dawn seized the capital Tripoli in summer.
“Mr Aguila Saleh (parliament’s president) has proposed to appoint Haftar,” spokesman Farraj Hashem told reporters. “The House of Representatives supports this.”
He said a decree appointing Haftar would still need to be signed by Saleh, who has quasi-presidential powers.
Haftar, an army general, has emerged as would-be strongman in the east, where the internationally recognised prime minister, Abdullah al-Thinni, has been based since losing control of Tripoli.
Haftar, who helped Muammar Gaddafi into power before falling out with him in the 80s and joining the 2011 uprising against his rule, has merged his forces with army troops in the east to fight Islamist groups including Libya Dawn?.
While the alliance has managed to win back some territory in Benghazi, Haftar has drawn criticism for ordering air strikes on civilian airports and seaports.
Critics say Haftar is sidelining Thinni and sees himself as the Libyan version of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former chief of staff who toppled an elected president after mass protest to his rule.
The rival government controlling Tripoli and much of western Libya accuses Haftar of trying to reinvent the old Gaddafi police state.
But the grey-haired general also enjoys some support among normal people frustrated with hardships in the east, where a violent conflict between the two competing governments has made petrol, electricity and medicines scarce.
Protesters have in the past few weeks in major eastern cities demanded that Thinni quit and hand power to a military council headed by Haftar.
Thinni, whose government has struggled to make an impact working out of hotels in a small eastern city, has sought to address critics from military figures who labelled him as weak.
On Tuesday, he accused the United States, Britain and European Union for failing to supply arms to his forces.