France accused of fuelling Libyan clashes
Johannesburg – France has been accused by the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, of intervening in the current clashes taking place in the Libyan capital Tripoli as the North African country inches closer to civil war following four days of clashes which have left approximately 27 dead and many more injured.
Forces from eastern Libya loyal to renegade general Khalifa Hafter, who leads the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) who support the rival House of Representatives (HoR) government based in Tobruk in the east of Libya, have been battling forces loyal to the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital.
Tajani, who is also vice president of the Italian party "Forza Italia", said France’s alleged intervention revolved around serving its own interests, Al-Jazeera reported.
"We have always said that France and Italy have separate interests in Libya, so much so, that (former president Nicolas) Sarkozy was one of the strong supporters of overthrowing and then killing Muammar Gaddafi, along with the Americans and the British," Tajani told Italian media.
"France has made a dramatic historical mistake and was hoping for a stronger presence in Libya, but at the end, there is nothing but chaos and we have paid the price, through the continuing migration flows," he added.
Italy is concerned that Libya’s ongoing instability will lead to hundreds of thousands of Africans fleeing the country and seeking refuge in Europe. Rome has borne the brunt of illegal migrants seeking a better future.
Of equal concern are the thousands of migrants who have perished at sea when crowded, unseaworthy boats have overturned in the Mediterranean, while hundreds more have been abused in Libyan detention centres.
The EU president’s comments followed a statement released by Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini who said that the economic interests of a foreign country were behind the military operation launched on the Libyan capital Tripoli by the LNA.
It is widely believed that he was referring to France. However, Hafter has also been supported by Arab countries, including Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
African News Agency (ANA)