The 17 December ‘expiry’ date was marked by an official television announcement from Libyan National Army (LNA) general commander Khalifa Haftar declaring the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) and its institutions expired. He also lambasted foreign ‘threats’ against the LNA. Significantly, Haftar also endorsed ‘elections’ as the only legitimate expression of the Libyan people’s will governing future politics, without announcing any military operation to retake Tripoli as feared by many factions. A day earlier on 16 December, House of Representatives (HoR) member Salhin Abdulnabi al-Ghaithi reportedly announced that Haftar had demanded the High National Elections Commission (HNEC) board be changed due to the presence
Powerful Government of National Accord (GNA) aligned militias in Tripoli, including the Nawasi Brigade, have condemned Haftar’s words and called them a “coup against the democratic process”. A number of small but dedicated demonstrations were also held across the country, denouncing the expired LPA and calling for Haftar and the LNA to take control of the country.
On 17 December, Misrata’s municipal mayor Mohammed Eshtewi was abducted with his brother a few kilometres away from Misrata airport shortly after landing on a flight from Turkey. Both were hit a number of times and the mayor was reportedly killed after being struck by a sharp object in the head. The municipality announced three days of mourning. Eshtewi was a key figure in the reconciliation process. He was expected to lead a delegation of Misratans to Zintan on 18 December to reinforce military reunification efforts with the LNA. His death is a major blow to this process. The assassination has been condemned by a range of Libyan and international actors.