Libya’s interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah announced plans for elections this summer, rejecting the eastern parliament’s bid to oust him.
Dbeibah, who heads the Government of National Unity (GNU) in the western part of the country, reiterated his promise to resign only after a national vote, defying the Eastern-based parliament’s appointment of former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha to replace him as prime minister.
Dbeibah also said that GNU will hold a parliamentary election followed by a presidential election in June as he tries to slow down a bid led by parliament to replace him.
“(Parliament’s) ruthless course threatens to bring us back to division and will inevitably lead to war again,” he said.
Many Libyans fear that the dispute will bring back years of divided rule before Dbeibah was installed a year ago when warring administrations ruled in the East and West.
As political problems have intensified in recent weeks, rival armed forces have been mobilized in the capital, increasing fears of clashes.
Libya’s political chaos has undermined an internationally backed peace plan aimed at ending violence and division since the 2011 NATO – backed uprising against former President Moammar Gaddafi.
That plan was supposed to culminate in the parliamentary and presidential elections in December, but the process collapsed shortly before the planned vote as rival factions quarreled over the rules and how they would be applied.
Parliament said that Dbeibah’s term of office had expired with the election date in December and that it had moved to establish a new interim government to oversee a referendum on a temporary constitution and new elections within 14 months. The East-based parliament appointed former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha as interim prime minister.
Dbeibah said that the parliament itself is no longer valid about eight years after it was elected and that its longer election schedule aims to extend its own position of power.
Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh, who, like Dbeibah and Bashagha, had been a presidential candidate, has since led efforts to replace the Unity Government.
Both Bashagha and Dbeibah have the support of rival armed groups in the Libyan capital.
The United Nations, the Western powers and even some MEPs have demanded that Dbeibah remain in office until the election, for which a new date has not yet been set.
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