Wannabe ruler of Libya, Khalifa Haftar, has embarked on a campaign in the eastern part of the country to force residents into signing a paper recommending him to be “the president of Libya” following his failure to do so by military means.
Local residents said Khalifa Haftar’s militia groups started the signatures campaign to collect as many signatures as possible to declare the renegade General as president for the upcoming four years.
Eyewitnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they had been stopped at checkpoints run by armed men who forced them into signing their full names on a paper in support of Khalifa Haftar as the president of the country.
“I couldn’t say no, I just wrote my full name and signed it. Who dares to say no!” one eyewitness reported.
Khalifa Haftar’s tribal puppets, with the help of the militia groups, have already set up tents in many locations to collect the signatures, but due to the low turnout, the militia groups moved to the streets and government premises to force residents and government employees into signing.
“Refusing to sign means death”, another eyewitness says.
In Suluq, a town 53 kilometers to the southeast of Benghazi, Dignity Operation-installed mayor Bashir Al-Fakhari, issued a decision urging the town’s government and private institutions to sign a recommendation paper in favour of Khalifa Haftar’s power endeavours.
Al-Fakhari is also a supporter of the Salafi movement known as Madkhalism. The Madkhali Salafis, who control all mosques in Dignity Operation-held areas, are strong promoters of the signatures campaign due to their belief that elections are haram.
Media reports from the besieged city of Derna said Dignity Operation militants had forced dozens residents who crossed the checkpoints to neighboring towns to write and sign the recommendation paper.
Meanwhile, the Health Minister of the east-based Interim Government, Rida Al-Oakley, said Khalifa Haftar is expected to form a national government soon.
Speaking to Egypt’s Albayan newspaper, he claimed that his government and the House of Representatives support Haftar’s move to form a new government to bring stability back to the country.
Sources predict that Khalifa Haftar intends to use the forced signatures as a “mandate” from the people to proclaim himself as “the president of Libya” after the expiration of the Libyan Political Agreement on December 17, 2017. The sources said such a move would crumble already-deteriorated Libya’s status quo.
The most densely populated areas in Libya are out of Khalifa Haftar’s control.