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Anti-Islamist general named Libya army chief

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A once-retired general leading a sweeping offensive against Islamists has been named head of the Libyan army loyal to the country’s internationally recognised parliament, an official said Monday, in a move expected to deepen divisions in the conflict-riven nation.

“I’ve chosen Major General Khalifa Belgacem Haftar for the post of commander-in-chief of the army after promoting him to the rank of lieutenant general,” Aguila Salah, the speaker of the internationally recognised parliament, told AFP.

Libya has been awash with weapons since the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi, and opposing militias have since been battling for control of its cities and oil wealth.

It has two rival governments and parliaments — those recognised by the international community sitting in the far east of the country and the others with ties to Islamists in the capital, Tripoli.

A new round of UN-sponsored dialogue aimed at resolving the nation’s political crisis is set to be held Thursday in Morocco, after the parliament decided to resume stalled talks.

Haftar’s appointment had raised fears that it would derail the efforts of the UN envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, to restart the political dialogue.

On Monday night, however, the internationally recognised parliament voted to return to the UN-brokered talks a week after suspending its participation, a lawmaker told AFP.



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