Fathi Bashagha, who was recently appointed by Libya’s Tobruk-based pro-putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar parliament as the new prime minister to replace Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, said he is determined to establish the new government in the capital Tripoli.
In a video message he posted on Facebook, Bashagha said he is determined to form the government in Tripoli and does not intend to establish a “parallel government” anywhere else in the country.
Without specifying names, Bashagha said some countries proposed to mediate between him and Dbeibah, but the latter rejected the offer.
He said that they are ready for all types of dialogue, including domestic and international initiatives while rejecting claims that the armed forces supporting him are limited to the country’s east.
Dbeibah was named interim leader last year during a United Nations-backed process aimed at helping the North African country recover from a decade of chaos that followed the ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
His government had the mandate to lead the country to elections on Dec. 24, 2021.
But the polls were canceled, and parliament began interviewing candidates to replace Dbeibah, a process that could spark new east-west power struggles in the troubled nation. The east-based parliament is in favor of the putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who waged a campaign against the internationally-recognized interim government to take over capital Tripoli.
The House of Representatives (HoR) in the eastern city of Tobruk had designated Bashagha as prime minister in February.
It had tasked him with forming a government to replace that of Dbeibah, based in the capital Tripoli in the west of the country and deemed by Saleh as having outlived its mandate.
The emergence of Bashagha’s government once again gives the country two prime ministers, as was the case between 2014 and a landmark east-west cease-fire in 2020.
Bashagha, a 59-year-old former fighter pilot trainer from Misrata near Tripoli, is backed by eastern-based putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar whose disastrous 2019-2020 attack on the capital ended in defeat and a return to UN peace efforts, following Turkey’s support to the legitimate Tripoli government.
During Bashagha’s stint as interior minister in 2018-2021, he worked to reduce the influence of militias and bring fighters into state-run forces.
He is one of the few major Libyan actors to have good relations with foreign powers backing rival sides in the country.
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