Libyan putschist general Khalifa Haftar resigned from his military role for three months on Wednesday in an attempt to run for president in a possible election in December
National elections were held as a way to end Libya’s decadelong crisis, but have been embroiled in bitter arguments over legitimacy that could end a month-long peace process.
Haftar leads the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) based in eastern Libya and waged war against the internationally recognized National Accord Government (GNA) after the country split in 2014, including a 14-month offensive to take Tripoli that was repulsed last year after devastating areas of the capital.
LNA said in a statement that Haftar had assigned its chief of staff to take on his duties for three months.
The election was called last year by Libya’s political dialogue forum, a UN-elected assembly that set out a roadmap for peace in Libya, a major oil producer, by setting up a unity government and holding a nationwide vote.
Although the existing eastern parliament approved the unity government in March, important parts of the plan have since stalled, and on Wednesday the House said it had withdrawn confidence from Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah.
This month, Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh said it had approved a presidential election law with a controversial clause that analysts said was tailored to allow him and warlord Haftar to run without risking their existing positions.
The clause, which was adopted in a vote with a few lawmakers present, said officials could resign three months before the election and return to office if they did not win. The House did not vote on the final version of the law.
Parliament, which was elected in 2014 and split shortly afterwards into warring factions, has not yet approved a law for a separate parliamentary election, as required by the UN Dialogue Forum.
A Tripoli-based advisory body, the Prime Minister, has rejected Parliament’s electoral law and increased the likelihood that any vote will be contested as illegal.