EU Libya envoy says bloc not in touch with renegade general, says solution must respect state

The EU special envoy to Libya has appeared to distance himself from a renegade general leading an offensive against Islamists, stressing that his group seeks a solution in the North African country that respects and bolsters state institutions.

Bernardino Leon told reporters Sunday that the EU has not been in touch with Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who last week launched a military campaign in Benghazi against Islamist militias and the Islamist-dominated parliament, calling it a war on terrorism.

Street rallies in different Libyan cities have expressed support for Hifter.

Leon said Hifter gained popular support because Libyans have grown fed up with a split parliament and an ineffective government. But he said Libya needs a solution to its growing instability that involves all actors and respects state institutions.