A new power struggle has deepened the Libyan crisis following the Tobruk – based House of Representatives’ appointment of former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha as prime minister on Thursday, while incumbent Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah promised to remain in office until national elections are held.
The failure to hold discussions on the legitimacy of the Libyan Government of National Unity (GNU), originally scheduled for December 24, has led to differences of opinion in the western part of the country as well.
When Bashagha arrived at Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport late on Thursday, Bashagha was greeted by a group of supporters. No legal sanctions were imposed on him and he did not encounter any obstacles.
On Friday, Dbeibah went to Misrata, his and Bashagha’s hometown east of Tripoli, and held talks with local authorities and some military officials there.
Following the talks, it was announced that a military force from Misrata would head to Tripoli on Saturday to strengthen the state’s legitimacy and force the parties to hold presidential and parliamentary elections.
Later, the 21 brigades in Misrata released a written statement in response to the election of Bashagha as prime minister, saying it was unacceptable for the House of Representatives to act alone in the political and constitutional process.
On Saturday, about 200 heavily armed military vehicles, including two Turkish-made Kirpi, arrived in Tripoli from Misrata in the evening. A group that presented itself as “the support force of the Libyan army” in Martyrs’ Square condemned the decision of the House of Representatives to elect Bashagha as the new Prime Minister.
The group condemned “the absurd situation that contradicts the results of the political dialogue forum and wants the country to enter new stages of transition.”
Decisions taken in the House of Representatives at its most recent meeting in Tobruk were not “in accordance with fair and transparent procedures”, it said.
It expressed “strong support for the parliamentary elections, the referendum on the constitution and the presidential elections as soon as possible.”
Evaluation from Libyan streets
Khaled al-Mishri, President of Libya’s Supreme Council of Ministers, said that the evaluation meeting, which should be held after the election of the new Prime Minister, had been postponed and that they did not take a final position on the issue. Al-Mishri said he would accept the objections at the next Council meeting.
Evaluations from the Libyan streets suggest that if al-Mishri had also announced support for Bashagha as prime minister, the Dbeibah government would have fallen.
Following al-Mishri’s comments, Dbeibah, who does not take kindly to the fact that elections will be held soon, said he would change his mind and make a statement on February 17 about the election coinciding with the anniversary of the revolution.
On the other hand, the UN has continued to support Dbeibah after the House vote.
The parliament of the East-based House of Representatives had announced that Khaled Bibas, Bashagha’s only rival in the election, had withdrawn from the race.
However, Bibas denied any wrongdoing and accused Libyan parliament speaker Aguila Saleh of lying by announcing his withdrawal.
Different scenarios emerge regarding the situation in the western country.
The first scenario is that the Dbeibah government will continue to work while Bashagha establishes a parallel government.
In this case, the possibility of Bashagha forming the government of Sirte, the hometown of Moammar Gaddafi’s hometown, is discussed to avoid the possibility of armed conflict as some names, especially those who supported the eastern part of the country, had expressed their views on moving the capital to Sirte.
The possibility of Dbeibah withdrawing from the race is also being discussed, but it is considered a weak possibility. Dbeibah is seen as the prime minister who has served and invested the most in the country since the protests began in 2011. He has quite high popular support in the western part of the country.
The third possibility is that Mohammad Younes Menfi, the chairman of Libya’s presidential council, dissolves the parliament’s parliament, Libya’s supreme council and government and announces a state of emergency.
It would be difficult for Menfi, a former ambassador, and his assistants to gather the will to go ahead with such a decision, and even if they do, the stable environment in the western country could deteriorate again.
At the same time, there is also the possibility that a third figure in addition to Dbeibah and Bashagha may form the government. However, there is no prominent political name on the horizon that all parties can accept, at least so far.
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