Libyan parliament suspends Fathi Bashagha as prime minister of Sirte-based government

The failure of the two rival administrations in Libya to agree on a new electoral law is delaying the national elections and endangering the fragile ceasefire achieved through UN mediation in November 2020

May 17, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Fathi Bashagha suspended Libya
Fathi Bashagha. (Photo: Middle East Online)

Fathi Bashagha, the prime minister of the Libyan parliament-backed Government of National Stability in Sirte, was suspended from his post on Tuesday, May 16. The decision was announced after a meeting of the parliament in Benghazi by its spokesperson Abdullah Belhaiq. 

Belhaiq stated that the parliament has handed over Bashagha’s duties to Finance Minister Osama Hammad. According to reports, an inquiry has been constituted against Bashagha on allegations of corruption. His failure to enter the capital Tripoli was also considered as one of the reasons for his suspension.  

Bashagha was appointed as prime minister by the Libyan parliament based in the eastern part of the country in February last year after it “dismissed” the interim government led by Abdul Hamid Dbeibah for his failure to hold national elections and for allegedly using his post to promote his candidacy as president. Dbeibah, however, refused to step down and continues to enjoy the support of factions in and around Tripoli.

Upon his appointment as prime minister, Bashagha tried to enter Tripoli on a couple of occasions last year, leading to violent clashes between his forces and those loyal to Dbeibah, and the killing of scores of civilians. After his attempts failed, Bashagha announced that his government would operate from the central Libyan city of Sirte.    

Dbeibah had been appointed as the interim prime minister in the Government of National Accord formed in February 2021 after a long mediation by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) between the warring factions in Libya. The UNSMIL-led Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) had been able to negotiate a ceasefire deal among several fighting factions in the country in November 2020. Though the ceasefire still holds, there has been a stalemate in the political process as the interim government under Dbeibah failed to build a consensus around the national elections, which were scheduled to be held in December 2021.  

UNSMIL’s new leadership, under Abdoulaye Bathily, has tried to bring the rival administrations to agree on early national elections and to end the political uncertainty in the country and over a decade of war.

Libya, once a prosperous and stable country in Africa, plunged into war and chaos following the NATO-led invasion in 2011 and the killing of long-term ruler Muammar Gaddafi.