Jump to navigation

Libya

Prime ministerial fight takes country back to the brink

A disputed vote in the Tobruk parliament leaves the country, once again, with two rival governments

In a point-blank challenge to Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dubaiba's government in Tripoli, the parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk, the House of Representatives (HoR), endorsed a new government on 1 March to be led by former interior minister Fathi Bashagha (AC Vol 63 No 1, Political leaders versus the polls).

Some observers cited irregularities in the Tobruk vote. Video footage suggested that fewer than half the 200 members had voted, which is short of a quorum, according to UN advisor Stephanie Williams and foreign diplomats. It followed the indefinite postponement of fresh parliamentary elections due in December.

Williams had said that the confidence vote on a prime minister should be 'consensual', transparent and meet legal requirements.

Prime Minister Dubaiba has refused to recognise the Tobruk vote and Bashagha's claims on government. It divides the country again into rival camps, risking a return to the stand–off and fighting between the UN–backed government of Faiez el Serraj and the HoR–backed General Khalifa Haftar.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the vote 'fell short of the expected standards of transparency and procedures and included acts of intimidation prior to the session'.

On 4 March, Williams offered to mediate, urging the HoR and Tripoli–based High Council of State (HCS) to nominate six delegates each to form a 'joint committee dedicated to developing a consensual constitutional basis'.

Tensions have been rising sharply this month. An armed group kidnapped foreign minister Hafed Gaddur and technical education minister Faraj Khalil when they were en route to Bashagha's swearing–in in Tobruk. Although Bashagha's office reported they had been released by the end of the week. 

Most foreign powers have declined to take sides so far. Russia is the only state to recognise the Bashagha government. Last year, Moscow supported Gen Haftar's military campaign against the Tripoli government, which was backed by Turkey.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine and ensuing geopolitical split could further complicate Libya's fractious politics.



Related Articles

Political leaders versus the polls

There's little prospect of the politicians agreeing to the elections they had promised but the UN will keep trying to make it work

The legal and political causes of the failure to hold presidential elections on 24 December, the seventieth anniversary of the country's independence, look to ensure they cannot be...


Parliaments at sea

Egypt and its new ally the UAE join battle against jihadist fighters while two parliaments compete for power on the ground

After Tripoli International Airport fell to Islamist-led forces from Misurata on 23 August, the victors were quick to announce that they would resuscitate the country's former Parl...


Plan mooted to settle east-west split

The country is back to rule by two governments – but support is growing for devolution instead of the stalled international push for national elections

Libya looks more divided than at any time since the 2011 revolution. It boasts one government in Tripoli ruling the west, and another in Sirte which is recognised in the east &ndas...


Trump talks peace

The US is trying to force a ceasefire in order to stem Russia’s growing influence as Haftar claims to be poised to take Tripoli

The attempt by eastern-based General Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army to seize Tripoli is now into its ninth month but is still unaccomplished. In October, however, afte...


Lobbying on

Just as Mozambique’s Resistência Nacional Moçambicana threatens to return to violence, the man who championed it at the height of its atrocities has surfaced in papers found in the...