Libyan PM Fayez al Sarraj demands rival warlord Khalifa Haftar's illegal militia withdraw from capital Tripoli outskirts, slams global inaction over hostilities raging in his country.

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj delivers a speech at the UN Human Rights Council's main annual session on February 24, 2020, in Geneva.
Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj delivers a speech at the UN Human Rights Council's main annual session on February 24, 2020, in Geneva. (AFP)

The head of Libya's UN-recognised government slammed his rival warlord Khalifa Haftar before the UN on Monday as a "war criminal", and decried international inaction over hostilities raging on the ground, while both sides said they won't attend Wednesday's talks in Geneva. 

"The entire world has been able to see the escalation in hostilities and attacks against the capital Tripoli since April 4, 2019," Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj, who leads the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

But despite large numbers of people killed and displaced by the actions of "the war criminal Mr Haftar", Sarraj lamented: "Until today, we have not seen action by the international community."

"We have repeatedly asked that commissions of inquiry be established to investigate the violations, the forced displacements, the arbitrary detentions, the extrajudicial killings," Sarraj said.

The fighting has claimed more than 1,000 lives and displaced some 140,000, according to the United Nations.

In the latest outbreak of fighting, Haftar launched his offensive on Tripoli last April but after rapid advances, his illegal militia stalled on the outskirts of the capital.

'This is inhuman'

GNA foreign minister Mohamed Taha Syala, meanwhile, voiced particular criticism about international inaction to force an end to warlord Haftar's oil blockade, warning of the dire humanitarian consequences of cutting off the country's main source of income.

The international community, he said, must "instruct opening the oil fields and opening the ports to feed the Libyan people."

He told reporters in Geneva that major powers had acted quickly to force an end to a previous attempt by Haftar to blockade Libya's oil, but that today there seemed to be less interest in boosting oil supplies on the global market.

"I know they don't want the prices in the market to drop by putting in the market around one million barrels," he said, suggesting that "maybe this is behind the reason" for the international inaction.

"If it is the reason, this is inhuman," he said.

Libya rivals suspend Geneva talks

The GNA leaders' comments came as the UN announced that indirect negotiations between military leaders from Libya's warring sides had agreed on a draft ceasefire deal, which will now be discussed by the political leadership on both sides.

Those political negotiations are scheduled to kick off in Geneva on Wednesday.

But later on Monday, both sides said they will not attend the talks.

UN envoy Ghassan Salame, who was scheduled to meet with Sarraj later on Monday, has said the political discussions would go ahead despite the hostilities on the ground.

Source: AFP