Fathi Bashagha-led government in Libya decides to operate from Sirte after failing to enter Tripoli

While Bashagha was appointed as prime minister this year in February by the Tobruk-based Libyan parliament, the Abdul Hamed Dbeibah-led government has refused to resign and hand over power

May 18, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Libya conflict
Fathi Bashagha. (Photo: Alwasat)

After repeatedly failing to enter capital Tripoli, the Fathi Bashagha-led government in Libya has decided to base itself in the central city of Sirte from Wednesday, May 18. The decision was announced by Bashagha in a video message hours after he was forced to move out of Tripoli following a fight on Tuesday between his government’s forces and those loyal to Prime Minister Abdel Hamied Dbeibah.   

Libya currently has two prime ministers. Bashagha was appointed in February this year after accusing Dbeibah of misusing state power. His government claimed that Dbeibah’s mandate was over in December after it failed to carry out elections as per the UN-led peace process plan. 

However, Dbeibah refused to resign claiming that Bashagha’s appointment was illegitimate. Dbeibah has said that he will only hand over power to a new government elected by the people. 

Bashagha and members of his government tried to enter Tripoli on Tuesday, May 17, after waiting for over two months for Dbeibah to hand over power. Bashagha’s attempt to enter the capital led to a gunfight between forces loyal to Dbeibah and forces of the Libyan parliament. 

Following the gunfight, Dbeibah addressed the nation assuring that the situation had returned to normalcy. He accused the “armed outlaw group” of the violence and reiterated that his government will continue in power until the national elections.  

Last month, forces loyal to the Libyan parliament blocked oil export from the country, forcing Libya’s National Oil Corporation to suspend production from some of the fields. The forces moved to block the production of oil following the announcement of suspension of their participation in the 5+5 Joint Military Committee last month demanding Dbeibah’s resignation.  

The United Nations Stability Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) is organizing talks in Egyptian capital Cairo between the representatives of both the governments to resolve the conflict. 

The Dbeibah-led interim government was appointed by the UN-mediated Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) in February 2021, along with a three-member presidential council led by Mohammad Younes Menfi. The interim administration was assigned the task of conducting national elections in December 2021. However, elections did not take place due to controversies related to candidature and electoral law. 

The national elections were supposed to mark a transition in Libyan politics and end the war in the country which began in 2011 following the NATO-led invasion. The UN was finally able to achieve a ceasefire among all the parties of the war in October 2020 and initiated the LPDF.