Turkey urges international community to respond to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar

Military commander Khalifa Haftar

Turkey on Wednesday accused Libya's strongman Khalifa Haftar of seeking to "create a military dictatorship" and vowed to "defend" the government in Tripoli, Turkish media reported. Haftar, who controls swathes of eastern Libya and in April last year launched an offensive to seize Tripoli, said on Monday that his self-styled army had "accepted the will of the people and its mandate" to govern the country.

Turkey's foreign ministry denounced the claim. "With this announcement, Haftar has once again demonstrated that he does not seek a political solution to the crisis in Libya, does not support international efforts in this regard... and aims to create a military dictatorship in the country," it said.

Turkey backs Libya's UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in the capital Tripoli, and has dispatched troops and pro-Turkish Syrian fighters there.

The ministry urged the international community to "respond, without further delay, to this person, who undoubtedly exposed his intention to establish a junta regime in Libya." And it assured in a statement that Turkey would "definitely continue to stand by the brotherly Libyan people in defending the GNA and all other legitimate institutions of Libya."

Libya's UN-recognised government on Tuesday accused Haftar of seeking to stage a coup.

France said that the Libyan conflict could not be solved through unilateral decisions, but only under UN-backed dialogue. French foreign ministry added that Paris was attached to Libya's unity and stability.

On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow "is still convinced that the only possible solution in Libya depends on political and diplomatic contacts between the parties to the conflict". Washington called for dialogue between the two sides and a "humanitarian" truce.

EU spokesman Peter Stano said "any attempt to push forward unilateral solutions, even more so by force, will never provide a sustainable solution" for Libya.

Libya has been split since 2014 between areas controlled by the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and the northwest, and territory held by eastern-based forces in Benghazi. The conflict escalated sharply this month, with fierce fighting on several different fronts in the west of the country despite urgent calls from the UN and aid agencies for a truce to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

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