Libya's foreign minister said Tuesday a rival general must accept civilian rule in order to play a role in the country's future.
Field Marshal Khalifa "Haftar must first accept to work under a civilian authority and officially approve the political deal" that gave rise to the power-sharing authority, Mohamed al-Taher Siala told AFP by phone from Algiers.
Haftar, who heads the self-styled Libyan National Army, does not recognise the authority of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord and instead backs a rival parliament based in the country's far east.
That parliament, Libya's sole elected house of representatives, has also refused to endorse the GNA.
Siala spoke a day after making controversial comments about Haftar in Algiers following a regional meeting towards ending conflict in Libya.
"Haftar was named by a parliament elected by the Libyan people. He is the head of the Libyan army. There is no doubt about that," he said Monday, just days after a rare face-to-face meeting between Haftar and GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj in Abu Dhabi.
On Tuesday, Siala said he did not understand why his comments were seen as controversial since he had made the same remarks previously.
Tensions soared in the Libyan capital after Siala's comments on Monday, with tanks and armoured vehicles deployed to protect the GNA's headquarters, witnesses said.
On Tuesday, a powerful GNA-allied militia in Tripoli denounced the minister's remarks in a statement.
It said the idea of the parliament giving Haftar legitimacy "went against the Libya political agreement" inked in December 2015 that gave rise to the unity government.
That UN-brokered deal gave no role to Haftar or his forces, but the strongman has since imposed himself as a key player, especially after seizing the country's key oil terminals in September.
Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 revolt that toppled and killed longtime leader Moamer Kadhafi, with rival militias and authorities vying for control of the oil-rich country.