By Khalid Mahmoud
Libya’s outgoing National Salvation Government Prime Minister Khalifa al-Ghweil told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday that Libyan National Army (LNA) leader Khalifa Haftar will not be able to break into Tripoli.
Ghweil said that eastern-based Field Marshal Haftar virtually has no army to enact his vision on taking over the capital.
Ghweil, a self-declared prime minister with no international acceptance, derided the UN-sponsored Tunisia negotiations to settle the Libya crisis. “Negotiations being held in Tunisia to amend the Skhirat agreement is absolute mockery,” said Ghweil.
The aim of these negotiations is to kickstart the implementation of a recently announced action plan by the new UN Special Representative for Libya, Ghassan Salame, aimed at helping Libyans end their deeply polarized political and military conflict.
The 54-year-old politician said the government he leads is not going anywhere and that it will stand against the internationally-led government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj.
“His government arrived aboard an Italian frigate,” he criticized.
“We do not recognize what is dubbed as a Presidential Council by the United Nations, because it goes against the outcomes of the democratic national dialogue, which is backed by the people—all of which is founded in our constitutional and legal awareness,” said Ghweil while renouncing any body linked to the Sarraj government.
“Our government has not left the political scene… the government of national salvation is on the ground, and the only legitimate cabinet in accordance with the constitutional declaration as being sworn in before the elected legislative authority with the integrity and transparency of the people, the General National Congress,” said Ghweil in defense of his administration.
“My government does not rely on or support any militia, but it has regular military forces under its chief of staff and defense ministry, as well as the National Guard, which was established in accordance with the military legislation in force,” Ghweil explained.
Responding to whether he would support the establishment of a military junta led by Haftar, he said: “I do not support that. I advocate state’s rule, the peaceful transfer of power, the rejection of the militarization of the state and the subordination of the military establishment to civilian political leadership.”
“Haftar cannot secure his base at the moment– he has no strength and no army … but rather is supported by foreign forces, which cover him from the airspace as well,” added Ghweil.
“It (foreign interference) destroys Libya and kills its people, and cannot enter Tripoli”.
“Militias are sabotaging Tripoli and holding its citizens captive, but the National Salvation Government seeks to protect statehood and citizens through dismantling these militia formations and integrating them into military institutions and police,” Ghweil said.
He further explained that former Libyans who joined militias will be drafted into state-run institutions individually and not as groups, in a move that is said to back national interest and requirements of defense and security.
Ghweil said the presence of the Sarraj administration in Tripoli resembles more a ghost than a true governance system.
“The people who came to Tripoli made the situation worse. They do not control anything. They are people driven by militias according to their opinions. Public services were cut off,” Ghweil added.
When asked about the opposition facing Haftar, Ghweil said that it isn’t Misrata alone going against the field marshal, but most Libyan cities.