The military chief of Libya’s internationally recognized government expressed skepticism Tuesday about U.N.-backed talks aimed at ending the country’s political split and said in an interview that he is “betting on a military solution” if a deal remains elusive.
Gen. Khalifa Hifter’s comments underscored the obstacles to any agreement between rival governments in Libya. The international community is pushing for a deal, fearing that Libya’s chaos could destabilize its neighbors.
Libya effectively split in half last year when forces allied to Hifter attempted to drive rival militias out of Tripoli and were defeated, leaving Libya’s internationally recognized government and elected parliament confined to the eastern cities of Tobruk and Bayda.
The two sides have been negotiating in Morocco to end months of fighting, the bloodiest since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
U.N. envoy Bernadino Leon has visited both Tripoli and Tobruk, where he has proposed keeping Libya’s elected parliament and setting up a unity government of independents. A new round of talks is to begin Wednesday.
Hifter, who commands forces loyal to the Tobruk government, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he doesn’t oppose negotiations outright. He said he would abide by decisions of his government, but said it was not clear how the political rivals could reach a deal. He would not agree to any cease-fire with militias, he said.
Hifter said that if peace talks go nowhere, “then the military solution is a must because it is decisive.”