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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Overview: the ousting of Muammar Qaddafi and the chaos that ensued  

More than four decades of authoritarian rule had ended, but more upheaval was soon to come 

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi fans his face during the Forum of Kings, Princes, Sultans, Sheikhs and Mayors of Africa in Tripoli. (AP Photo/Abdel Magid Al Fergany, file)
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi fans his face during the Forum of Kings, Princes, Sultans, Sheikhs and Mayors of Africa in Tripoli. (AP Photo/Abdel Magid Al Fergany, file)

Libya, where rival authorities in Tripoli and the east are vying for power, fell into chaos after the removal of Muammar Qaddafi in October 2011.

A Nato-backed uprising that begins in February 2011 snowballs into bloody armed conflict. Qaddafi, on the run since the rebels captured the capital in August, is killed in October while trying to flee his home town Sirte as rebels close in.

Days later the rebel National Transitional Council declares Libya's "total liberation".

In August 2012, the council hands over power to a transitional General National Congress (GNC).

After more than four decades of authoritarian rule, Qadaffi's era had come to an end. The news sparked celebrations across the country, but more upheaval was soon to follow.

- Rise of radical groups -

US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American staff are killed in an attack on their consulate in Libya's second city Benghazi on September 11, 2012. An Al Qaeda-linked group is accused.

A car bomb attack in April 2013 targets France's embassy in Tripoli, wounding two French guards.

Foreign delegations pull out of the country as it falls into chaos.

- Two governments set up -

Military commander Khalifa Haftar, backed by Egypt and the UAE, launches an offensive in May 2014 against rebel groups in Benghazi.

Several military officers join his paramilitary Libyan National Army.

In June, following legislative elections, the GNC is replaced by a parliament dominated by anti-Islamists.

In August, after weeks of deadly clashes, Islamist-led militias storm Tripoli and reinstall the GNC. They set up another government.

The country finds itself with two governments and two parliaments.

The June-elected government and parliament, the only ones recognised internationally, take refuge in eastern Libya.

- ISIS profits from chaos -

ISIS claims its first attack in Libya in December 2014.

The following June it seizes Sirte to the east of Tripoli, but is driven out of the coastal town in December 2016.

- Rival authorities -

In December 2015, months of negotiations result in accords signed under UN supervision in Skhirat, Morocco, that designate a UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

The two rival parliaments have reservations but the UN Security Council endorses the accord.

The unity government in March 2016 takes up office in Tripoli, headed by prime minister Fayez Al Sarraj.

But the rival administration in the east remains in place, backed by General Haftar and the parliament elected in 2014.

In July 2017, Mr Sarraj and General Haftar, meeting in Paris, commit to a ceasefire and elections but there is no change on the ground.

In December 2017, the UN says the two-year-old Skhirat accord is the only viable framework for a solution. But General Haftar says it has expired and the GNA's mandate has run out.

He backs the holding of elections in 2018 while implicitly threatening to take power if the political process fails.

- Fresh violence -

In January 2018, fighting at Tripoli's only working international airport kills at least 20 people after militiamen attack in a bid to free comrades held at a jail there.

The same month, nearly 40 people are killed after two car bombings outside a mosque frequented by jihadist opponents in Benghazi.

On May 2, two ISIS suicide attackers kill 14 people at Libya's electoral commission in Tripoli.

- Haftar and a renewed military offensive -

On May 7, General Haftar, after spending at least two weeks in hospital in Paris for undisclosed treatment, announces a military offensive to take from jihadists the city of Derna, the only part of the country's east outside the control of his forces.