Libyan militias move into Tripoli in support of Dbeibah

Tobruk-based House of Representatives have appointed Fathi Bashagha to replace prime minister

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Libyan militias from the north-western city of Misrata entered the capital Tripoli on Saturday in a show of support for Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah after parliamentarians appointed a new interim premier on Thursday.

Former interior minister Fathi Bashagha was chosen by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives to head the Government of National Unity pending presidential elections to take place at an unknown date.

The convoy from Mr Dbeibah and Mr Bashagha’s home city of Misrata provided a show of strength for Mr Dbeibah, whose government mandate ended on December 24, when presidential elections should have been held but were not amid differences on the final list of candidates.

Both Mr Dbeibah and Mr Bashagha had registered for the elections.

Mr Dbeibah had said he would not cede power except to an elected government.

Reuters reported that there were 100 vehicles in the convoy, highlighting the dangerous security situation the country faces amid continuing power struggles and political instability.

Mr Dbeibah and the parliament exchanged heated words, with the incumbent accusing the House of Representatives of being “responsible for all this bloodshed and chaos” in the country and parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh calling Mr Dbeibah corrupt.

The UN has asked that authorities focus on holding elections rather than selecting a new interim government.

Libya became mired in a civil war backed by foreign nations after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, following a Nato-backed uprising. Rival factions of the Tripoli-based government and Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces in Tobruk split the east and west of the country.

Libya's newly named interim prime minister Fathi Bashagha delivers a speech at Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli on February 10. AFP

The Government of National Unity under Mr Dbeibah was set up last year to end the divide and move the country forward to a democratic political process with presidential and parliamentary elections.

Mr Bashagha has been tasked by the House of Representatives with forming a new government and arrived in Tripoli on Thursday night, after the parliamentary session to instate him.

The UN’s position on the Dbeibah-Bashagha power struggle remains unclear. On Friday, Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he “takes note” of the recent developments, including the adoption of a constitutional amendment to revise the electoral process and the vote on an interim prime minister.

“The Secretary General calls on all parties and institutions to continue to ensure that such critical decisions are taken in a transparent and consensual manner,” Mr Guterres said.

Updated: February 13, 2022, 8:43 AM
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