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Senior Libyan Army Officer Calls for Suspension of Parliament

Libyan military calls for parliament to be suspended, presidential committee to rule amidst rumors of coup.
By Dalit Halevi, Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 2/14/2014, 1:10 PM

Militiamen in Tripoli, Libya (illustration)
Militiamen in Tripoli, Libya (illustration)
Reuters

Major General Khalifa Haftar, a leading figure in the 2011 Libyan revolution against Muammar Qaddafi, released a videotaped statement Friday announcing the suspension of the parliament until elections can be held. A presidential committee representative of Libya's many minority groups will rule instead in the meantime, according to the official. 

"The national command of the Libyan army is declaring a movement for the new road map," Haftar said, in a translation provided by Times of Malta. Haftar claimed the military was calling for the country to be "rescued" from its upheaval. "We will hold meetings with different parties and groups regarding implementing this road map." 

Haftar insisted that the move was not a military coup, but rather an initiative stemming from the need to protect the Libyan people. However, some media outlets viewed the announcement with suspicion, noting that Haftar's "road map" included giving him much of the government's legislative and executive power. 

Haftar's campaign is based on constant unrest in Libya, which has been plagued by violence since the collapse of Qaddafi's regime. Various militant and terrorist groups are vying for power in the country; the struggle has been marked by a string of killings targeting top army and security officials as well as judges. Last month, Libya's deputy minister of industry was shot dead during a visit to his hometown of Sirte.

Independent militias still control large part of the North African country and regularly fight each other. Terrorist groups have taken advantage of the situation and are training fighters on Libyan soil.

In October, Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was kidnapped from the Tripoli hotel in which he resides, but was released several hours later.

Several weeks ago, former rebels kidnapped five Egyptian diplomats in retaliation for Egypt’s arrest of a top Libyan militia commander. They were freed several days later.