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February 14, 2014

Libyan PM Moves to Quash Coup Rumors

by Edward Yeranian

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and military officials spoke out Friday to dispel rumors of a possible coup after retired general Khalifa Haftar posted a video statement calling for a “road map” to a new government.
 
Insisting his government and national assembly remain in control of the country, the prime minister criticized Haftar's "coup-like" comments, in which he calls for Libya's top judge to assume the presidency and an "initiative" to suspend the transitional government and General National Congress (GNC), the country's top political body, followed by a round of elections and a new constitution.
 
According to Agence France Presse, Haftar led all ground forces in the 2011 ouster of longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi.
 
The GNC created a flap on February 3 when it prolonged its official mandate amid some popular discontent, also passing a law making it illegal to “publicly insult the legislative, judicial and executive powers in the country.”
 
At a Friday press conference, Zeidan called Haftar's statement null and void, reassuring the Libyan people that the national assembly remains in place and continues to exercise its prerogatives, and that his government is going about its business normally. The situation in the country, he insists, is under control and all is well.
 
Libyan Army Chief of Staff Abdel Salem al Obeidi also declared the situation calm, stating that the military had not seized power and that his forces will act to prevent any coup from taking place and will stop anyone going against the principles of the revolution.
 
"The situation is under control and there is no suspect movement," the army chief of staff's spokesman Colonel Ali al-Shikhi told AFP.
 
Former Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril told Sky News Arabia that the national assembly bears responsibility for tensions in the country, insisting that “no one in Libya today has the power to force his will on everyone else as in the old days [of deposed leader Moammar Gaddafi].”
 
It was not immediately clear who may have been behind the retired general's call to oust Libya's current rulers, but one Arab analyst claimed Egypt and Saudi Arabia may be trying to encourage a more stable government in Libya to stanch the flow of arms across North Africa.
 
Libya is due to mark the third anniversary of the start of the popular revolution that deposed Moammar Gaddafi on Monday.