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The spectre of a third Libyan civil war haunts the outskirts of Tripoli

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Tuesday, August 30th 2022 à 15:40 | Read 248 times

The Prime Minister of the Libyan National Unity Government, Abdelhamid Dbeibeh, refuses to give up his place to a new head of government appointed by the Parliament (photo: GNU)
The Prime Minister of the Libyan National Unity Government, Abdelhamid Dbeibeh, refuses to give up his place to a new head of government appointed by the Parliament (photo: GNU)
LIBYA. The face-off has been going on since the beginning of the week in the outskirts of Tripoli between supporters of the Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity (GNU), Abdelhamid Dbeibeh, and those of Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha, who was appointed in February 2022 by the Parliament sitting in Tobruk, in the east of the country.

This concentration of armed men was further strengthened on Friday, August 26, 2022, while the day before, in his speech to the Council of Ministers, Abdelhamid Dbeibeh indicated that his government "continues its activities normally, with international recognition, until the holding of elections.

Fathi Bashagha sent a letter to the head of the national unity government on Wednesday, August 24, 2022, asking him to step down. He considers his government "obsolete and illegitimate.

Since the appointment of the one who should have been his successor, at least according to the will of the Parliament sitting in Tobruk, Abdelhamid Dbeibeh clings to the power obtained in March 2021 from the hands of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum under the auspices of the UN. He keeps repeating that he will leave only to give his seat to a Prime Minister elected by the Libyan people. He also replied to his interlocutor through social networks, "avoid sending messages and redundant threats of an outbreak of war and targeting civilians.

Fathi Bashagha wants to sit in Tripoli

On May 16, 2022, during the previous skirmish in Tripoli, Fathi Bashagha, former Minister of the Interior, had given up his desire to sit in the capital. He had taken up residence with his parallel government in Sirte. On July 22, fighting resulted in sixteen deaths and about fifty injuries.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said on Tuesday, August 23, 2022, that it was "deeply concerned" by this threat. It called for "immediate de-escalation" and reiterated that the political problems of this country "cannot be solved by armed confrontation. Last July, the UN Security Council expressed concern about the "volatility of the security situation".

According to the words of Abdelhamid Dbeibeh, Thursday, August 25, 2022, the continuation of his government "is the only way to pressure all parties to submit to the elections, otherwise they will continue to conclude extension agreements."

A presidential election, the first in Libya's history, was scheduled for December 24, 2021, but was later postponed to January 24, 2022, but was never held. Yet it remains the key to resolving the Libyan problem, a decade after the removal and assassination of Muammar Gaddafi followed by two fratricidal civil wars.

Elections as a solution to the governance conflict

Abdelhamid Dbeibeh now asks the President of the Parliament, Aguila Saleh, and the President of the High Council of State, Khaled Mechri, to "liberate Libyans by publishing the new constitutional rules that will lead the country to elections. He insists, "no one can believe that it is taking so long to reach an agreement on a controversial article, when they have deprived the Libyan people of their right to vote for eight years."

According to the GNU Prime Minister, "there is no division in Libya, all institutions, municipalities, administration, ministries and bodies are under the control of the Government of National Union. There is, however, a political dispute that will only find its solution through elections."

On August 18, 2022, the members of the General Assembly of the Libyan Supreme Court voted unanimously to reactivate the constitutional circuit to review and decide appeals. This institution has not ruled on these cases since 2014 when it ruled unconstitutional some elements of the constitutional declaration that led to the election of the House of Representatives. This return to the field could prove decisive if elections, both presidential and legislative, could finally take place in this country.

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