Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah has promised to draft a new election law to resolve the intensifying political crisis in the North African country.
The pledge came as UN chief Antonio Guterres called on Friday on “all parties to continue to preserve stability in Libya as a top priority”, a day after the country found itself with two competing prime ministers – raising the spectre of renewed violence.
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In a statement, Guterres reminded “all institutions of the primary goal of holding national elections as soon possible”, saying he “takes note” of the Libyan parliament’s naming of the new prime minister.
A day after surviving an apparent assassination attempt, Dbeibah told Libya Al Ahrar TV on Friday a bill focusing on elections would be presented to the House of Representatives, then transferred to the presidential council for ratification.
Libya was scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in December, but arguments between factions and bodies of state about how they should take place led to the process collapsing days before the vote.
Nearly three million Libyans signed up to vote, and the political jostling and delays that have followed have infuriated many.
‘No parallel authority’
Libya’s political crisis deepened on Thursday after the parliament, based in the eastern city of Tobruk, announced it chose former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha as the country’s new prime minister.
Racked by conflict since a NATO-backed uprising against longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya was for years split between rival administrations in the east and the west, each supported by myriad militias and foreign governments.
The parliament’s move is expected to complicate the international community’s efforts to bring an end to the crisis.
Dbeibah has pledged he would “accept no new transitional phase or parallel authority”, and would hand over power only to an elected government.
“The parliament’s selection of a new government is another attempt to enter Tripoli by force,” he told Al Ahrar TV.
Dbeibah said the parliament’s move was similar to what happened in 2019 when the Libyan National Army (LNA) of eastern commander Khalifa Haftar and his army attacked Tripoli.
On Thursday, Bashagha flew to the capital Tripoli from Tobruk pledging “to open a new chapter” and “reach out to everyone”.
Thanking Dbeibah for his work, the 59-year-old said on his arrival at Mitiga airport he was “confident” the government would “respect democratic principles” and hand over power.
A former air force pilot and businessman, Bashagha, 59, stands as a powerful figure in western Libya. During his tenure as interior minister from 2018 until early 2021, he cultivated ties with Turkey, France and the United States, but also with Egypt and Russia, which backed his nominal rivals in the intra-Libyan conflict.
He is also believed to have links to armed militias in the western city of Misrata that played a key role in defending the capital against Haftar’s 2019 assault on Tripoli.