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Libya’s NTC chief threatens to resign ‘if elections fail’ as tribal clashes flare

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The head of Libya’s interim government and revolutionary figure, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, said on Wednesday he would stand down if the country’s upcoming elections run off course.

In the wake of fresh unrest between former Libyan rebels, Jalil said in an interview with Al Arabiya that “strong force will be used against those who threaten the security of Libyans.”

“I plan to resign if the elections fail,” the National Transitional Council chief added, revealing that the vote for a constituent assembly has been scheduled for June 19.

The remarks came at the close of a third day of clashes near the border of Tunisia which has claimed at least 26 lives, according to Al Arabiya.

“We will not allow Libyan blood to continue to be spilled,” Jalil said.

The fighting pitted armed Berber groups from Zwarah against gunmen from the neighboring Arab towns of Regdalin and Jamil.

The two camps fought on opposite sides during the 2011 conflict that toppled the regime of slain leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Libyan authorities warned on Wednesday that insecurity could cause a delay of elections for a constituent assembly and demanded an immediate halt to violence in the west of the country.

“Lack of stability could affect the decision of holding elections on time,” government spokesman Nasser al-Manaa told journalists in Tripoli.

He stressed that all government ministries were working towards holding the vote, but that continued violence could push the ruling National Transitional Council to push back the date.

Manaa urged Libyans not to resort to force to settle legitimate grievances and to leave matters of security and justice to the authorities.

“There are no winners -- everyone loses if clashes continue,” he said.

Army chief Yussef Mangush said during the same news conference that the army was ready to impose a ceasefire with force if needed.

“The government demands an immediate ceasefire,” he said.

The flare-up in the west of the country comes hot at the heels of violent tribal clashes in the southern cities of Kufra and Sabha.

The interim government has struggled to impose its authority with several militias holding onto their arms and refusing to follow commands.

“Freedom does not have to mean chaos and rights should not be claimed by picking up arms,” Manaa stressed, urging all parties to act with restraint.