Tripoli, Libya | AFP | Libya has been mired in chaos since the ouster and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, with two rival authorities and a multitude of militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.
Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar on Thursday ordered his troops to “advance” on the capital Tripoli, seat of the country’s internationally-recognised unity government.
Haftar supports a parallel administration based in the east.
Here is a timeline of the Mediterranean country’s descent into turmoil:
– Kadhafi killed –
Triggered by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, demonstrations erupt in Libya in February 2011. A coalition led by Washington, Paris and London lends its backing to an armed revolt.
Kadhafi, in power for 42 years, flees the capital. He is captured and killed on October 20, 2011 during a battle for his hometown Sirte, east of Tripoli.
Three days later, the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) declares Libya’s “total liberation”.
In August 2012 the NTC hands power to a transitional authority elected a month earlier — the General National Congress (GNC).
– Embassies targeted –
US ambassador Chris Stevens and three American staff are killed in a September 11, 2012 attack on their consulate in Libya’s second city Benghazi. An Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group is blamed.
A car bomb in April 2013 targets France’s embassy in Tripoli, wounding two French guards.
Most foreign delegations withdraw from the country.
– Rival governments –
Dissident army general Haftar launches an offensive in May 2014 against jihadist groups in Benghazi. He is backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Several military officers from the east join his self-styled Libyan National Army.
As nationalists and Islamists vie for power, legislative elections are held in June and the GNC is replaced by a parliament dominated by anti-Islamists.
Islamist-led militias contest the results and group under the banner of “Fajr Libya” (Libya Dawn). They storm Tripoli in August, installing their own “national salvation” government and restoring the GNC.
The elected house, which has international recognition, takes refuge in the eastern city of Tobruk near the border with Egypt.
Thus the country finds itself with two governments and two parliaments.
After months of negotiations and international pressure, lawmakers from the rival parliaments sign an accord in December 2015 in Morocco to set up a UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
In March 2016, GNA chief Fayez al-Sarraj arrives in Tripoli to set up the new government, but Haftar’s rival administration refuses to recognise its authority.
– Peace talks, armed groups –
In July 2017, Sarraj and Haftar meet for talks near Paris where they agree to a ceasefire and commit to elections the following year.
In May 2018, weeks after suicide attackers from the Islamic State group kill 14 people at Libya’s electoral commission, the two men meet again in the French capital and commit to holding parliamentary and presidential polls at the end of the year.
In June 2018, a militia attacks two northeastern oil sites under Haftar’s control through which oil is exported.
After days of fighting, Haftar’s forces announce they are back in “full control” and have also seized the city of Derna from radical Islamists.
In January 2019 Haftar launches an offensive into oil-rich southern Libya, ostensibly aimed at wiping out “terrorists” and criminal groups.
His forces seize the region’s capital Sebha and one of the country’s main oil fields without a fight.
– Conferences –
On February 28 the UN says Libya’s rivals have met and agreed to hold polls.
In March the UN says it will organise an all-party conference the next month to draw up a “road map” for Libya, including setting dates for legislative and presidential elections.
Later in March the African Union says it will host a “reconciliation” conference in July aimed at uniting Libya’s political rivals.
– Advance on Tripoli –
On April 3 Haftar’s forces announce they are gearing up to move on the west of the country including Tripoli.
A day later powerful armed groups from the western city of Misrata, loyal to the Tripoli government, vow to block the threatened advance.
UN chief Antonio Guterres expresses deep concern over the risk of a major flare-up in Libya.
Haftar orders his troops to “advance” on Tripoli, saying “the time has come”.