Rival Libyan Leader Bashagha Says He Has no Plans to Rule From Tripoli

Rival Libyan Leader Bashagha Says He Has no Plans to Rule From Tripoli (News Central TV)

Libya’s rival prime minister, Fathi Bashagha, has stated that he has no immediate plans to rule from Tripoli, following clashes and fears of a return to widespread civil strife.

Bashagha stated that his government would operate from Sirte, a city on the Mediterranean coast roughly halfway between the country’s east and west.

Until elections are held, rival administrations from both ends of Libya claim to be the country’s legitimate rulers.

Bashagha described last week’s events, saying he arrived in Tripoli in a civilian car and that those accompanying him were unarmed. During the incident, a young man was killed.

Bashagha identified him as Ahmed Alashabab and described him as a supporter defending him from militiamen.

“We do blame ourselves for having entered the city,” he said. “I had said that I would not enter the capital unless conditions were 100% favourable.”

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Oil-rich Since 2011, when a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has been wracked by conflict.

It has been divided into east and west rival administrations, each supported by different militias and foreign governments.

The installation of Bashagha’s government in Sirte is likely to exacerbate the political schism.

Bashagha, a former interior minister and air force pilot, was appointed prime minister in February by the country’s east-based parliament.

However, his rival, Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who is based in Tripoli in the country’s west, has refused to resign, stating that he will only hand over power to an elected government.

Bashagha claims Dbeibah does not command enough loyalty outside of the capital to unite the country and organize orderly voting.

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“He will only be able to hold them in Tripoli,” he said, adding that his own government is looking at holding nationwide elections within 14 months.

Over the last two months, the impasse has worsened, resulting in the closure of oil facilities, including Libya’s largest oil field, in areas controlled by Hifter’s forces.

Bashagha stated that he was not behind the oil production halt, but that local tribes had decided to take matters into their own hands because they did not want to fund Dbeibah’s government.

Bashagha also urged the country’s Central Bank, which has been ravaged by years of civil war, to pay out his government’s budget, which was approved by lawmakers from the east.

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The bank holds billions of dollars in annual oil revenue as well as foreign reserves. It splintered along the country’s broader political fault lines in 2014.

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