Libyan renegade general urges new 'crisis cabinet'

Khalifa Haftar leaves a news conference in Benghazi - 18 March 2011 General Khalifa Haftar says he is fighting militant Islamists who have been blamed for bombings and assassinations

A retired general waging an armed campaign against Libya's government has urged the judiciary to appoint a crisis government to oversee new elections.

Gen Khalifa Haftar, who has launched recent attacks in Benghazi and Tripoli, said the government had "fostered terrorism" and failed Libyans.

Dozens of state bodies have pledged their support for Gen Haftar.

But the government called the operation an "attempted coup" and ordered the arrest of those taking part.

The campaign, dubbed "Libya's dignity" by supporters, is seen as the most serious threat yet to Libya's post-Gaddafi government.

Gen Haftar, a former army chief of staff under Col Muammar Gaddafi, led an assault against militant groups in Benghazi on Friday. On Sunday forces allied to him took control of Libya's parliament building in the capital Tripoli.

He accuses the government of supporting terrorism - a charge denied by authorities.

Libya's parliament chairman pledged to continue in his post until new elections are held in late June.

Political plan

Gen Haftar's latest comments were made at a news conference in the eastern city of Benghazi, where he is based. Correspondents say it is the clearest indication yet of his plan for Libya.

Libyan army special forces commander Wanis Bukhamada declares his support for Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi (19 May 2014) Gen Haftar has persuaded army commanders and militia leaders to support his campaign

He called on the Supreme Court to set up a civilian council. which would oversee the appointment of an emergency cabinet and the holding of new elections.

Gen Haftar has called for an end to Islamist parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya. He said that the next government should "heed the will of the Libyan people" and prevent Libya from becoming a "hideout for terrorists".

Government and parliament officials have so refused to step down, but some officials, including military commanders and Libya's ambassador to the UN, have said they support Gen Haftar's plan.

Culture Minister Habib Amin declared his backing of Gen Haftar on Wednesday, Reuters news agency reported.

On Tuesday the interior ministry released a statement saying that it "supported fully" the campaign.

However, Interior Minister Salih al-Mazig later denied the report, insisting that he was siding "with the people".

Libya's interior ministry funds several of the armed groups that have been under attack in the past week.

The head of Libya's navy, Gen Hassan Abu-Shannaq, also announced his support for the operation.

Security forces in Tripoli stand guard near the parliament building amid attacks by militants - 18 May 2014 Sunday saw clashes around the parliament building in Tripoli

Shortly afterwards he was wounded in an apparent assassination attempt in Tripoli, along with two of his guards and a driver.

At least 100 people have died since the outbreak of fighting on Friday.

On Tuesday, Libya's embattled government proposed that parliament go into recess after voting on this year's budget. It also announced that new parliamentary elections were scheduled to take place on 25 June.

They would be the second parliamentary elections since the overthrow of long-serving ruler Col Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

However, the country has remained unstable with rival militias fighting for power.

The planned new constitution remains unwritten and the country has had three prime ministers since March.

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