April 13, 2018 / 5:03 PM / 14 days ago

Key Libyan commander treated in Paris hospital - source

PARIS (Reuters) - Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar has been treated in a hospital in Paris, a French source close to the matter said on Friday, confirming earlier reports from Libyan officials and media.

Libya's eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar attends General Security conference, in Benghazi, Libya, October 14, 2017. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

Haftar, 75, is the dominant figure in eastern Libya and has long been seen as a likely contender for power nationally. He heads the Libyan National Army (LNA), a force aligned with a government based in the east which has opposed a rival, internationally backed government in the capital, Tripoli.

The French source declined to comment on Haftar’s condition.

Conflicting reports about his health sparked a flurry of rumours and speculation in Libya, where the United Nations is leading efforts to reunify the country and prepare for elections by the end of the year.

A Libyan source close to Haftar who asked not to be named said Haftar was expected to return to Libya over the weekend. Other Libyan sources had said that Haftar was flown to Jordan and then France earlier this week.

The U.N. Envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, spoke on Friday by phone to Haftar and “discussed the general situation in Libya and the latest political developments in the country,” the U.N. Mission to Libya (UNSMIL) said in a tweet.

UNSMIL did not respond to a mailed question whether Salame had discussed with Haftar his health.

An advisor to Haftar told Reuters the commander’s health was good.

Reporting by John Irish, Aidan Lewis and Ulf Laessing; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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