Field Marshal Kahlifa Hifter, the General Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) today addressed the Libyan people to declare the expiration of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), also known as the Skhirat agreement which was signed in Morocco on 17 December 2015. UN officials said at the time that the LPA and its political bodies, including Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), would expire after two years.
Hifter said the LNA has worked intensively over the last two years with the UN and Libya’s international parners without reaching any tangible result. And in a direct swipe at the UN-backed GNA, he announced that starting today, the LNA will no longer take orders from any entity, unless it was elected by the Libyan people. Hifter was recently forced by GNA’s international backers to accept in principle that the LNA would operate under GNA’s political oversight. Here is the full transcript of Marshal Hifter’s speech:
“O the great people of Libya,
These days, our country is facing a critical and historic crossroad. The world - near and distant - is watching very closely the events and the developments in Libya as we reach the 17 of December 2017, the day on which expires the validity of the so-called [Libyan] Political Agreement. And all bodies emanating from it will automatically lose their legitimacy, which was disputed from day one.
As the day begins, the Libyan citizen feels that their patience has reached its limit. And that the phase of stability and renaissance for which they have so patiently aspired, and for which they paid with lives and blood; have become so distant and out of their reach, if not an illusion and mirage, as the international interests [continue to] clash in the Libyan crisis, and in light of the failure of the international promises and those of politicians engaged in the so-called [Libyan] Political Agreement.
[The Libyan citizen] also feels that their dreams and aspirations which they have built based on the ongoing [political] process, have faded away and was replaced by disappointment and lack of trust in all domestic and international institutions, that have promised to extend a helping hand to the Libyans and undertook the process of improving their deteriorating conditions and alleviating their suffering which have only got worse as the time passed.
As the 17 of December begins, and with great sadness and bitterness, we see signs [suggesting] that the Libyan state is entering into a critical stage, which may lead to a sharp and serious deterioration in all aspects of domestic affairs without exceptions. The impact of such eventuality may spell over regionally and internationally, and would open the door to all possibilities. Amidst apathy from the world who claims that it is capable of finding and imposing the solution.
And without the people being able to touch any genuine and tangible results by the domestic nor international institutions - which claimed to be committed to solving the situation and sponsoring the process of the so-called accord - to assure the people about their present and future, would have spared the country [facing] such a dangerous cliff.
Despite all the shiny slogans during the dialogue between those competing for power, starting from the dialogue of Ghadames, to Tunisia, Geneva, and Skhirat, among others, which unfortunately, have all ended up being nothing but a mere ink on paper.
For over a year, and based on its commitment to finding a solution to the lengthy crisis, the general command [of the LNA], has been engaged in direct and intensive communication with the international community, particularly the countries interested in the Libyan cause, and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, and has proposed initiatives to advance the political process, and to warn against extending the duration of the crisis and ignoring the suffering of the Libyan people, and to remind of the importance of pushing the Libyan parties competing for power, towards a comprehensive solution before the 17 of December, and to take the necessary urgent actions to prepare for presidential and legislative elections as soon as possible, as the foundation for political stability.
Yet international laxity, domestic stubbornness, and putting the personal interest before those of the homeland and the people, have all led to the expiration [of the agreement] without giving any real guarantees that may lead to a comprehensive and a fair solution, which went as far as threatening the general command of the Armed Forces with strict international actions if it took any step outside of the consensus of the international community and the UN Support Mission in Libya.
Despite the threats we are facing, we declare, very clearly, that our complete obedience is under the orders of the free Libyan people, and nobody else. [The Libyan people] is the custodian of its own fate, the master of its land, and the source of all powers, who owns the decision about its destiny in the spirit of free will.
We categorically reject the method of threats. And pledge to the Libyan people that we remain committed to protecting them and defending them and defending their resources and institutions to the last soldier in our ranks.
We also declare our absolute rejection for the Libyan National Army to be placed under the control of any entity, whatever the source of its legitimacy, unless it was elected by the Libyan people; to safeguard our existence and unity, in loyalty to our martyrs, our wounded and in appreciation of the heroic sacrifices of our Army.
May Allah protect Libya from all evil.
Glory and eternity to our martyrs!
Peace Be Upon You!"