Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni accused the retired General Khalifa Haftar of being responsible for the incident of stopping his flight to Malta from Al-Abraq airport, by gunmen on Tuesday.
Al-Thinni’s government announced in a statement on Wednesday, that the armed group stopped the PM’s flight by orders from Air Forces Commander, Saqr Al-Jurushi, adding that the group broke commands of Chief of House of Representatives, Ageela Saleh, who is considered to be the Supreme Commander of the army. Ageela blamed Al-Abraq air base commander for the act.
The incident comes after the dismissal of the Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Dairi, who is said to be the closest to Haftar in the government. Al-Thinni appointed Hasan Al-Saghir as Al-Dairi’s successor, after he was accused of managerial and financial violations.
Abdullah Al-Thinni was on his way to Malta to attend an oil conference – that was being organized by the National Oil Corporation for more than three months, about 30 oil companies are expected to attend – when gunmen forced him out of the plane while opening fire on the run way, according to the statement issued by the government.
Al-Thinni said that he was offended and mistreated by the group, whilst the government expressed its condemnation of the act considering it as a blatant assault against the legitimate and executive institutions in Libya.
The government said in a statement that, “the act came from a side we thought is as subordinate to the HoR as the government”, describing the act as “an actual mutiny against the state of institutions the Libyan sacrificed for”, “those acts don’t differ from practices of rogue militias against predecessor governments in Tripoli” the statement added.
The government statement issued on Wednesday said that an armed group intercepted Al-Thinni’s plane in the airport and prevented him from leaving, closed the airport, and claimed having orders from the army command to arrest the Prime Minister.
The gunmen also prevented the PM’s envoy from leaving the airport before another armed group intervened and forced them to retreat.
The Libyan government called on the House of Representatives to take up its responsibilities and take all legal proceedings concerning those actions.
In May, Al-Thinni survived an assassination outside the HoR building in Tobrok after postponing an accountability session due to riots around the building.
Haftar was appointed by HoR as Commander in Chief of the Libyan army Last year.