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Aguila Saleh to Asharq Al-Awsat: Libya Crisis Can Only Be Resolved by Replacing Current Rulers

Aguila Saleh to Asharq Al-Awsat: Libya Crisis Can Only Be Resolved by Replacing Current Rulers

Friday, 25 January, 2019 - 08:30
Libyan parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh. (Reuters)
Cairo - Khaled Mahmoud
Libyan parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh stressed that replacing the country’s rulers will pave the way to resolving its crisis.

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, he directed scathing criticism against United Nations envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, accusing him of being biased towards the Government of National Accord (GNA) that is head by Fayez al-Sarraj.

He said that it was “definitely” time for Sarraj to leave power, adding that “accord” does not describe the GNA.

The parliament, he stressed, “is the only authority that has been elected by the people and it has taken all necessary decisions to build state institutions.”

Among those decisions was the draft law to hold a referendum on the constitution, he explained.

The vote is expected in late February.

Should the people agree on the constitution, then it will be used to elect a new president and parliament, Saleh continued.

The UN, however, appears to be reneging on its commitment to hold the vote, he said.

Asked if the security and military conditions in the country are suitable for holding the vote, he replied: “Yes, if the UN supports us. Anyone who objects to the elections by force will be slapped with local and international sanctions.”

“I believe that the Libyans are keen on ensuring the success of the process,” Saleh stated.

Commenting on the security situation in the capital Tripoli and the spread of militias there, he noted that it is “common knowledge that these groups are backed by foreign powers and the government in the capital.”

Salame’s recent briefing at the UN admitted that the GNA was paying the wages of these groups, said Saleh.

On whether the ceasefire in Tripoli will hold, he remarked: “They agree one day and then disagree on another. In short, the GNA is the source of discord.”

Restoring stability and security in Tripoli “very simply lies in replacing the people who are ruling Libya,” he added.

Shifting to the elections, Saleh explained that had the concerned sides, such as the UN and GNA, been “sincere” in their intentions towards, then the polls will be held.

Anyone opposing the elections or claiming that they cannot be staged are in fact seeking to remain in power, he noted.

“The people must have the power to decide who rules Libya,” he demanded. “Elections are the right democratic line of action.”

“We have issued all necessary legislation to hold the presidential and parliamentary elections … but Mr. Salame says one thing in the morning then says another at night. He supports the government that has been imposed on us by foreign powers. He wants this government to remain in power, but the people will have their say in the end.”

Moreover, he said that Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood will seek to obstruct the elections. Should the Libyans stand united against such meddling, then the elections can be held.

Assessing Italian-French disputes on Libya, Saleh stated that “it would be best for everybody to quit meddling in Libyan affairs.”

On Saudi Arabia and Egypt’s stances, he noted: “They are real and fraternal positions that have more of an advisory role. I disagree with parties that claim that they are interfering in our affairs.”

Commenting on his ties with Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar, he said that there are no tensions with him, adding that he had played a “historic” role when unrest was raging in Benghazi, the oil crescent region, Derna and other parts of the country.

“He has carried out his duties to the fullest,” he stressed.

On whether Haftar may run for president, Saleh said: “Before being a military commander, he is a Libyan citizen and any citizen has the right to run for presidency.”

“Anyone who does not have legal restrictions has the right to run in any elections,” he added in response to whether Seif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, the son of late leader Moammar, could join the race.

Asked about Seif al-Islam’s whereabouts, he revealed that he was residing in Libya, where he enjoys all of his rights.

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