Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar ruled out a ceasefire in the battle for Tripoli and accused the United Nations of seeking to partition Libya, according to an interview with French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.
Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) began an offensive early in April to take Tripoli from fighters loyal to Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) which has the backing of the United Nations.
The LNA, allied to a parallel government in the east, has not been able to breach the southern defences of Tripoli. Fighting killed at least 510, forced 75,000 from their homes and trapped migrants in detention centres.
“Of course, the political solution is still the goal. But to get back to politics, we must first finish with militias,” Haftar told the newspaper.
Haftar said the head of UN mission to Libya, Ghassan Salame, was no longer impartial.
“Partition of Libya is maybe what our adversaries want. This is maybe what Ghassan Salame also wants.”
The flare-up in conflict in Libya – gripped by anarchy since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 – began in early April, when the LNA advanced on the capital.
Even though France and other Western countries officially back the Libyan government, some support Haftar seeing him as a bulwark against Islamist militias in the country.
Macron asked Haftar in Paris last week to make a public step towards a ceasefire, without much luck, a French official told Reuters.