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Libya denies rumours of impending coup

AFP , Friday 14 Feb 2014
Libya
Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan speaks during a news conference in Tripoli February 7, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
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Libya's government and armed forces on Friday moved to quash rumours of an impending coup after a retired general called for parliament and the government to be suspended.

In a video posted on the Internet, Khalifa Haftar announced an "initiative" looking to the interim authorities being suspended.

Both the prime minister and the head of the armed forces poured scorn on the idea of a coup d'etat.

Haftar commanded ground forces during the 2011 uprising that overthrew the 42-year dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi.

"The command of the Libyan national army announces its initiative for a roadmap, that will be made public in the coming days" in consultation with different parties, Haftar said in the video.

The initiative foresees the suspension of the General National Congress (GNC), Libya's highest political authority, and the transitional government.

It also looks to the formation of a presidential commission headed by the president of the Higher Judicial Council.

"The Libyan national army has decided to act... not in order to govern but to prepare the proper conditions" for elections, Haftar said.

After Haftar's video was released, rumours quickly spread on social networks that a coup may be in the offing.

"It's a lie. The situation is under control and there is no suspect movement," the army chief of staff's spokesman Colonel Ali al-Shikhi told AFP.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan called the rumours "ridiculous", saying that Haftar "is not a member of the military".

"He was retired," Zeidan said, adding that state institutions were functioning normally.

It is not known if the former general has any support among the ranks of the army or from powerful groups of former rebels.

Haftar, originally from eastern Libya where the revolt against Gaddafi erupted in February 2011, served under the strongman before defecting in the late 1980s.

He returned to join the rebels after spending more than two decades in the United States.

Haftar's video comes after the GNC on February 3 took the controversial decision to extend its mandate until December, despite opposition by much of the population critical of its inability to halt Libya's slide into chaos.

The authorities have struggled to restore law and order in the troubled aftermath of the Gaddafi era.

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