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Libya unity government accuses rival Haftar of seeking coup

Tripoli                   –                 Libya’s UN-recognised government Tuesday accused rival military strongman Khalifa Haftar of seeking to stage a new coup after he claimed to have a “mandate” from the people to govern the country.

“It’s a farce and the latest in a long series of coups d’etat,” the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is based in the capital Tripoli, said in a pre-dawn statement.

The oil-rich North African nation has been gripped by chaos since the ouster and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, with rival administrations in the east and west vying for power.

Haftar, who controls swathes of eastern Libya and in April last year launched an offensive to seize Tripoli, on Monday said his self-styled “army” had “accepted the will of the people and its mandate”.

The military commander did not make clear however if a parliament elected in 2014 and also based in the east of the country backed his move. Haftar claims his legitimacy from that parliament which was forced to move its headquarters after violence ripped apart Tripoli six years ago. GNA said Haftar had “turned his back on the parallel political institutions that backed him and designated him” head of the army.

Washington called for dialogue between the two sides and a “humanitarian” truce. “The United States regrets… commander Haftar’s suggestion that changes to Libya’s political structure can be imposed by unilateral declaration,” a statement on its embassy’s Twitter account said.

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