Libyan Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha, who was nominated by the eastern-based parliament earlier this month, has said that he would enter Tripoli peacefully in the next few days without resorting to force, despite long-drawn deadlock between competing groups.
After a planned poll collapsed in December, Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, who was appointed interim prime minister a year ago in a UN-supported procedure, has refused to hand over power to Bashagha and remains ensconced in the capital, backed by some armed groups.
After the electoral process collapsed, the parliament declared Dbeibah’s government to be defunct and appointed Bashagha to lead a new transitional period leading up to elections next year, a move that was met with opposition from other factions.
“We have direct contacts with the Libyan west, with Tripoli, the political elite and the leaders of the battalions and some societal figures.
“God willing the government will be able to carry out its duties in Tripoli in the coming days,” Bashagha said in an interview in Tunis.
Bashagha attempted to approach Tripoli with a big armed convoy three weeks ago, but was forced to retreat when soldiers associated with Dbeibah blocked the roads into the capital.
Since then, Libya has been locked in a political stalemate, with both governments claiming legitimacy, worries of new war or territorial split, and the United Nations and Western countries attempting to resurrect the failed election.
He claimed that there were signs from within Libya and outside that he would be able to take over in Tripoli, and that Dbeibah’s government would be unable to operate outside of the capital.
Libya has seen little peace since a NATO-backed rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and the country was split in 2014 between warring eastern and western factions who supported opposing regimes.
From 2019 to 2020, Bashagha was the interior minister in Tripoli’s internationally recognized government, and he was instrumental in fighting off an invasion by eastern parliament-backed forces led by Khalifa Haftar.
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