Mideast Libya

Suspension of parliament suggested, as violence continues in Libya

TRIPOLI — Since the fall of Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011, Libya still has not found its way towards a stable government, the effects of which can be seen by the various powerful militias that have taken control of many parts of the country. In order to settle the crisis among the warring groups, the caretaker government has called on the General National Congress, the highest Libyan authority, to be suspended until new elections are held in June. However, the government’s proposal is yet to be responded to by the parliament and it is still not clear how the rebel groups will react to it.

Such initiative was proposed on May 19, one day after General Khalifa Belqasm Haftar’s militia (the self-named Libyan National Army) demanded the suspension of parliament on television. This statement was issued just a few hours after the General National Congress was attacked by heavily armed vehicles under general Haftar’s orders. MPs appear to escaped the building before the assault occurred.

Khalifa Haftar is a retired general with links to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who accuses the parliament of supporting extremist Muslim groups. Therefore, his militias have undertaken several campaigns against Islamist militants all over Libya, as it was seen last Friday on an attack launched in Benghazi by the Libyan National Army. According to authorities, at least 70 people died in the fighting.

Whereas Khalifa Haftar accuses the Islamist militants of undertaking terrorist practices under parliament’s consent, the central cabinet of Tripoli denounces Haftar’s attempts to overthrow the caretaker government through a coup d’état. Meanwhile, in face of the central government’s incapability to impose its authority, the clash among paramilitary groups takes control of the whole country, causing Libyan society to be even more disintegrated.

Libya’s Instability and International Concerns

Three years after the fall of Gaddafi’s autocracy, Libya still could not consolidate a stable democratic regime. The country has had three different prime ministers since March, whereas a planned new constitution remains unwritten. In the face of this political instability, the European Union stated its deep concern over the recent clashes in Libya. Moreover, some countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates decided to withdraw their diplomatic personnel from Libyan territory until the end of the crisis.

It is still uncertain whether the proposal of suspending the General National Congress will be able to end Libyan conflicts. However, it is clear that Libya is undergoing a deep crisis, that could rapidly lead to another civil war. Perhaps it is time International organisations, especially the United Nations, conceive ways of supporting Libyan people as citizens are dying every day. Meanwhile, the parliament remains divided between Islamic and anti-Islamic forces, as the bouts among warring militias increase all over the country.

— Fabrício Fernandes, Correspondent (Politics)

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