The President of the House of Representatives (HOR), Agila Saleh, issued a statement over a week ago in which he advanced a political solution to the Libyan crisis that consisted of establishing a new Presidential Council and appointing a Prime Minister.
The statement led to divisions in eastern Libya after it was welcomed by the United Nations Special Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the US Embassy, suggesting that the HOR head had clearly deviated from the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) pursuit of a military victory in western Libya.
After Saleh’s statement, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar called upon Libyans to decide who they wanted to run the country, which in turn led to people taking to the streets to support Haftar and protest Saleh.
It became clear that divisions between the two men were worsening and that Saleh, with the support of foreign actors, was hoping to launch a political peace process that excluded the LNA.
On Monday, Haftar issued a second statement in which he announced the LNA would accept the people’s mandate to govern Libya. He also nullified the Libyan Political Agreement in territories under the LNA’s control.
Saleh, in an attempt to curb public outrage, carried out an interview with Al Hurra to explain that his statement was misunderstood and that his proposal did not contradict what Haftar had said.
Saleh also said that he beloved the LPA was no longer a viable political framework, adding that the HOR would remain as the country’s sole legitimate body while a new government was formed.
However, Saleh later appeared to return to his initial statement in a meeting with representatives of the Obeidat tribe, during which he diverged from the LNA once again.
The meeting concluded with a statement that was constructed to suggest the Obeidat was siding with the HOR over the LNA.
Many of the tribal representatives that attended the meeting issued statements of their own to underline their support of the LNA’s self-proclaimed mandate to rule Libya.
By midweek, tensions exploded in eastern Libya and pressure amassed against the HOR’s President. This forced Saleh to clarify his position and realign with the LNA in an interview with Al Marsad.
Sources close to Saleh told Libya Review that several actors had hoped to utilise Saleh in order to spur the political process forward without the LNA and had been applying a lot of pressure on him to do so.
According to the same source, these actors had assumed that the LNA had lost influence in eastern Libya and were not expecting to see such overwhelming support for the armed forces.
Today, the HoR issued a statement officially aligning itself with the LNA and condemned international forced that are “working to destabilise the LNA’s mission” and declaring that the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) is no longer valid.