By Maha Sulaiman and Saber Ayyub.
Benghazi/Tripoli, 21 January 2016:
In a dramatic turn of events, General Khalifa Hafter’s official spokesman, Colonel Mohamed . . .[restrict]Hejazi, launched a bitter attack on him, accusing him, his family and his associates of corruption and a long list of crimes.
Speaking on TV today, including Operation Dignity’s own station, he claimed that Hafter had deliberately stretched out the fighting in Benghazi, had targeted civilian areas, had set up a secret department to kill his opponents, had set fire to their homes and stolen their belongings, had diverted money from the Libyan army to his sons to buy property in Egypt and Jordan, but all the while remaining in comparative safety in Marj.
In his torrent of accusations, Hejazi who said that he had been one of Hafter’s closest confidants, also called him a dictator, an opportunist and a traitor, alleging he wanted to let 5,000 Italian troops arrive in Libya as part of a stabilisation force. He added that Hafter’s son had threatened to to kill him.
Equally condemning the new national unity government, he furthermore claimed a military council to run the country would be set up under Colonel Faraj Barasi, whom Hafter had sacked as military commander in Benghazi and tried to sack as head of Derna operations, and Colonel Wanis Bukhamada, the head of Saiqa Special Forces and known not to be sympathetic to Hafter.
The proposal would be presented to the president of the House of Representatives, Ageela Salah to approve, Hejazi added.
The reason for the remarkable outburst is unknown. A week ago Hejazi was still publicly defending Hafter.
However, the head of the Libyan air force, Major-General Adam Saqr Geroushi suggested bitterness at having been suspended by Hafter for issuing misleading statements to the media. This had happened last week, he told the Libya Herald. None of the allegations made by Hejazi were remotely true, he insisted.
As to those about Hafter’s family, Geroushi said that the general’s two sons were staying with him at present simply to look after him. Money given to them had been used to buy weapons, not property.
The attack, seen as indicating divisions within Hafter’s operations, has created something of a backlash in his favour in Bengahzi. An arrest warrent for Hejazi is meanwhile said to be imminently expected.
As for the general himself, he held talks in Marj this afternoon on security plans for the country with an Italian delegation that had flown in. [/restrict]