Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj said on Sunday he was not prepared to sit down with eastern commander Khalifa Haftar to negotiate an end to the two-month offensive against Tripoli, ONA reports citing Reuters.
His comments to Reuters suggest low prospects for a ceasefire soon in the battle for Libya’s coastal capital, where Serraj and his administration are based.
In the latest turmoil since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) force has been unable to take Tripoli despite fighting that has caused havoc in southern suburbs and displaced tens of thousands of people.
“I will not sit down again with this person because what he has done in past years shows he won’t be a partner in the political process,” the 59-year-old Serraj said in an interview at his wood-panelled office in central Tripoli.
The longest-serving in a succession of Tripoli-based prime ministers since 2011, Serraj has met Haftar, a 75-year-old former general in Gaddafi’s army, six times in the past few years.
The last meeting was in February in Abu Dhabi as foreign powers sought to broker a power-sharing deal between the rival eastern and western administrations.
“He was only trying to gain time,” Serraj said, pointing out that his rival had sent planes to bomb Tripoli.