Malta recognition of ‘illegitimate’ Tobruk government worsening conflict, says Libyan chargé d’affaires

Libyan chargé d' affaires Hussin Musrati says visas issued by the 'illegitimate' Tobruk government will not be recognised by the Tripoli government • Denies Tripoli is sheltering ISIS militants

Libyan Charge D'affaires Hussin Musrati
Libyan Charge D'affaires Hussin Musrati

Malta’s recognition of the “illegitimate” Tobruk government headed by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni is increasing division and worsening the conflict, and Malta should steer away from taking sides, Libyan chargé d’ affaires Hussin Musrati said Sunday morning.

“We are surprised at the government’s insistence in recognising a group which was dissolved by the verdict of the Supreme Court in Libya. With this recognition, the Maltese government is increasing division and worsening the conflict between the Libyan community in Malta,” the representative of the Tripoli government, which contests the legitimacy of the internationally-recognised government exiled in Tobruk, said.

Calling on the Maltese government to withdraw its recognition of the “illegitimate” Tobruk government, Musrati insisted that the Maltese government should steer itself from interfering in other country’s affairs.

Ever since his appointment on November 20, Musrati – the chargé d'affaires of the Tripoli government now installed in the Balzan embassy previously occupied by the Tobruk ambassador – has been at constant loggerheads with the Maltese government and its recognition of Al-Habib Al-Amin and the Tobruk government as the official representative of the Libyan government in Malta.

Moreover, on Monday, some 20 demonstrators congregated at City Gate, Valletta, demanding that Malta and other European states stop their support or Abdullah al-Thinni’s parliament in Tobruk, where it is currently in exile.

Echoing the protesters’ disdain at the Tobruk government, Musrati said that any additional measures to be taken if the Maltese government fails to recognise the Tripoli government’s legitimacy would be up for the government to decide, as his only job is to “convey messages from his government to Malta.”

The chargé d’affaires also said that any visas issued by the Libyan embassy in Ta’ Xbiex, which represents the Tobruk government, will not be recognised by the Tripoli government.

Addressing a news conference at the embassy in Balzan, Musrati said that border officials have been instructed to prohibit the entry of anyone holding a visa issued by the Ta’ Xbiex embassy, the office where the Tobruk embassy is now located at.

He alleged that the embassy was issuing visas to “undesirables” and that his own government would be issuing its own visas in the coming days.

Disputing reports that the Tripoli government was sheltering Islamic State (ISIS) fighters, Misrata said that this was just an excuse by countries such as Saudi Arabia, to attack Libya.

He deplored the Maltese government for recognising the Tobruk government, arguing that notwithstanding Malta’s “insistence” the Tripoli government still wishes to cooperate and engage in discussions.

The news conference was also attended by a number of injured Libyan fighters who were brought over for treatment in Malta after being injured in the Libyan civil war.

Some of the men said that they would be returning to Libya, as they would rather die than support the “remnants of the Gaddafi regime,” with reference to the Tobruk government.