Members of the self-styled Libyan National Army, loyal to the country's east strongman Khalifa Haftar, flash the victory gesture from atop an armoured vehicle in the eastern city of Benghazi on July 27, 2017. / AFP / Abdullah DOMA
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Standing beside French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris this week, Khalifa Haftar, the most powerful military leader in eastern Libya, was smiling when he shook on a deal with the country's prime minister for a ceasefire and spring elections. But hours later and away from the diplomatic stage, Haftar exposed the reality of deep fractures in Libya's political landscape, saying any cease-fire was limited, he actually had no interest in elections and Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj's power-sharing council was in the grip of terrorists. Keen to expand the French role in ending Libya's crisis, Macron had applauded the moment as a powerful act for peace among the country's rival armed factions who have skirmished over the oil-producing desert state since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 . Haftar had rejected Sarraj's U.N.-backed presidential council, even saying some members belonged to Al-Qaeda.Diplomats say that despite what Haftar said afterward, the fact that he agreed in principle the best way forward was a political deal, elections and a cease-fire would help to advance U.N. negotiations.
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