By Sami Zaptia.
London, 18 April 2018:
Faiez Serraj, head of the Presidency Council, has not spoken to Khalifa Hafter since reports surfaced of his illness last week, his official spokesperson Mohamed El-Sallak said at the weekly press conference yesterday. Sallak was responding to a direct question from a member of the media.
Asked for a comment about the reports regarding Hafter’s reported illness and his whereabouts, El-Sallak said that he could not comment on stories without reliable sources.
El-Sallak was referring to unconfirmed reports that started to circulate last Tuesday about Hafter’s ill-health and whereabouts.
These reports were initially denied by the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) official spokesperson Ahmed Mesmari. He had claimed on the LNA’s twitter account that ‘‘All the news about General commander’s health are false, Marshal Hiftar is in excellent health”.
House of Representatives (HoR) head, Ageela Salah, was then reported to have said that he had been in contact with the LNA commander, Khalifa Hafter and had discussed with him the latest developments. The comments had come through the official HoR spokesperson Abdulla Belheeg.
Belheeg had reported that Saleh, who is also the Supreme Commander of the mainly eastern-based Armed Forces, had warned against the rumours and incitement that some were trying to spread. He did not specify which specific rumours were being referred to.
The official HoR spokesperson had also reported Saleh as saying that work was continuing normally in all armed forces units and in all (military and security) operating rooms. Saleh was also reported as saying that he and Hafter were following up with the Chiefs of Staff and the Commanders of the operations rooms on a continuous basis. Furthermore, Saleh had assured all the Libyan people that the military institutions will remain the safety valve for the nation.
This was followed by a tweet by UNSMIL five days a go saying that UNSMIL head Ghassan Salame and Field Marshall Khalifa Hafter ‘‘communicated today via phone and discussed the general situation in Libya and the latest political developments in the country’’.
Meanwhile, LNA Chief of Staff Abdul Razak Al-Nazhuri, speaking today to local Libyan media outlets after surviving an assassination attempt in Benghazi, said that Hafter would be returning to Libya tomorrow.