By Jihad Nasr
East Libya-based military commander Khalifa Haftar has announced the expiry of a UN-backed political deal to resolve the conflict in war-torn Libya.
"On Dec. 17, 2017, the validity of the so-called political agreement comes to an end,” Haftar said in a televised speech on Sunday.
“With this, the bodies that resulted from the deal would automatically come to an end,” he added.
Haftar, whose forces control parts of Libya, said he would never “follow any party unless it was elected by the Libyan people”.
“All the dialogues starting from Ghadames and ending in Tunis and going through Geneva and Skhirat (in Morocco) were just ink on paper,” he said, listing host cities of U.N. talks.
Signed in the Moroccan city of Skhirat in late 2015, the UN-backed agreement gave rise to Libya’s current UN-backed unity government.
The East Libya-based parliament, however, has refused to sign the agreement, calling for the deal to be reformulated. In September, Libya’s main political camps began a new round of talks in neighboring Tunisia with a view to amending the terms of the 2015 agreement.
The head of the UN Support Mission in Libya Ghassan Salame also released a statement on Sunday and urged all parties to refrain from any actions that could undermine the political process.
Since the launch of the UN Action Plan for Libya, on Sep. 20 2017, he said, efforts were going on "to support Libya to enter a stage of certainty, embodied in a stable, capable and fair state."
"The Action Plan, in all its stages, was, and still is, meant to prepare the proper conditions for free and fair elections," Salame said.
Libya has remained in a state of turmoil since 2011, when a bloody uprising led to the ouster and death of longtime President Muammar Gaddafi.
In the six years since, the country’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of government -- one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli -- and a plethora of heavily-armed militia groups.