Haftar militia demands apology for Benghazi remarks

By Mohamed Artima

TRIPOLI, Libya (AA) – The militia of renegade general Khalifa Haftar on Wednesday demanded apology from Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh for his recent remarks on the eastern city of Benghazi.

On Thursday, Dbeibeh said during a tour in the capital Tripoli where he met with displaced people from Benghazi that: "Benghazi will return to the homeland and you will return to your families."

In a statement broadcast by the pro-Haftar Libya Al-Hadath TV channel, the militia, which calls itself the "General Command of the Libyan Arab Armed Forces", said it “has received hundreds of requests from various segments of society and from all tribes and families of the martyrs and the wounded that the Prime Minister, Mr. Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, must present an explicit and clear apology for what happened when he mentioned last week that Benghazi will return to the homeland".

“These statements are rejected, and he [Dbeibeh] must respect the blood of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives against terrorism and extremism,” the statement said.

On Sunday, the Libyan premier canceled a planned visit to Benghazi after Haftar's militia barred a plane carrying government protection and protocol personnel from landing.

Although Haftar’s militia welcomed the election of the transitional authority, the renegade general continues to operate independently from the legitimate government and continues to lead armed militias, calling himself the "Commander in Chief of the Libyan Army," in a complete disregard of the Supreme Commander of the Army, Mohammad Menfi, head of the Presidential Council.

On Feb. 5, Libya's rival political groups agreed during UN-mediated talks in Geneva to form an interim government to lead the country to elections this December. Libyan delegates elected Menfi to head a three-member Presidential Council and Dbeibeh as the new prime minister.

Libyans hope the government will end years of civil war that have engulfed the country since the ouster and killing of strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi in 2011.