Haftar returns to Benghazi


Khalifa Haftar, the military commander dominating eastern Libya, will return to Benghazi today, a spokesman said, following medical treatment in Paris.

Haftar was in Paris for about two weeks, where his spokesman earlier said he was treated after feeling unwell.

From Paris, Haftar flew to Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials, his main backer, Libyan and Egyptian sources told Reuters.

Haftar (75) has long been seen as a contender for national power and reports about his health sparked speculation in Libya, including claims he was gravely ill and rivals were manoeuvring to replace him.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) is aligned with a parliament and a largely powerless government based in eastern Libya since 2014.

They control most of eastern Libya, including the majority of its oil fields and ports, as well as parts of the south.

Haftar and others in the east oppose an internationally recognised government in Tripoli frustrating UN-led efforts to reunify the country.

LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said on his return Haftar would take part in celebrations marking the anniversary of his “Karama” (Dignity) campaign, the military operation he started in 2014 to drive Islamist militants and other opponents from Benghazi.

Haftar declared victory in July 2017, though sporadic fighting continued last year.

Streets in Benghazi and Rajma, where Haftar has his main base, were cleaned and decorated with posters in preparation for his return.