Russia 'surprised' by Haftar's Libya power grab -RIA cites source

by Reuters
Tuesday, 28 April 2020 08:00 GMT

MOSCOW, April 28 (Reuters) - Russia described a power grab by Libya's eastern-based military leader Khalifa Haftar, whom Moscow supports, as "surprising", state news agency RIA reported on Tuesday, citing a foreign ministry source.

Haftar said on Monday his Libyan National Army (LNA) was accepting a "popular mandate" to rule over the country, apparently brushing aside the civilian authorities which nominally govern eastern Libya.

"It's surprising," said the source.

Most important was for the military and political decisions reached at a conference in Berlin in January to be implemented by Libyans themselves, with the assistance of the international community, the source said.

"We support the continuation of the political process. There is no military solution to the conflict."

Libya has been split since 2014 between areas controlled by the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and the northwest, and territory held by eastern-based forces in Benghazi.

The conflict escalated sharply this month, with fierce fighting on several different fronts in the west of the country despite urgent calls from the U.N. and aid agencies for a truce to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

Haftar is supported by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. The GNA is backed by Turkey.

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow and Maxim Rodionov Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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