Libya MPs reject Russian claim they requested foreign troops

Libya MPs reject Russian claim they requested foreign troops
2 min read
29 September, 2021
The 48 MPs denied that they had asked for the assistance of any foreign forces, following a claim from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Russian FM Sergey Lavrov's claim has been rejected by the 48 parliamentarians [Ilya Pitalev/TASS/Getty]

Dozens of Libya's elected officials on Tuesday rejected a Russian claim that the Libyan upper chamber of parliament asked for foreign troops to be involved in the country.

Moscow's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told press in New York on Saturday that the presence of foreign forces in eastern Libya was made at the request of the Libyan House of Representatives, Anadolu Agency reported on Wednesday.

The 48 Libyan House of Representatives (HoR) MPs released a collective message in reply to Lavrov.

They said that they "categorically deny what was said in his statements… [W]e did not ask, as MPs, [for] the intervention of the Russians, nor did we ask for the assistance of any foreign forces, neither directly or indirectly".

The MPs claimed there were no talks on this topic in the HoR and it was never put to a vote.

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The message also called for "all foreign forces to leave Libyan territory immediately and unconditionally".

The HoR was formerly the legislature of an eastern-based authority that rivaled the internationally-recognised Tripoli government.

It is closely associated with east Libya warlord Khalifa Haftar and is located in the city of Tobruk.

While it joined a consensus Government of National Unity as part of a United Nations reconciliation plan in March, the HoR said last Tuesday that it had no confidence in this authority.

The HoR affirmed it would remain in a caretaker capacity, according to Reuters.

There are formally 200 MPs in the HoR, though just 130 or so are typically present in parliament, and there are lawmakers who have either quit the body or died, Anadolu said.

Libya has been mired by instability for many years and only managed to end a civil war in 2020.

Among the overseas fighters in Libya are Russian Wagner Group mercenaries, who have supported Haftar.

Russia rejects suggestions there are ties between it and Wagner, although there are compelling indications an association does exist.

Data found on a tablet that belonged to a mercenary in Libya reported on by the BBC suggests a connection with Moscow's armed forces.