On Wednesday, Libya’s Prime Minister-designate, Fathi Bashagha denied writing an article for the British newspaper The Times, in which he allegedly denounced Russia’s involvement in Libya.
The Times article, titled ‘Libya wants to stand with Britain against Russian aggression,’ was published under Bashagha’s name and included a scathing criticism of Russia.
Addressing his “British friends” in the government of Boris Johnson, he allegedly said that his government is ready to work with the UK, if the latter needs a partner in Africa to resist Russia.
However, a day after the article was published, Bashagha publicly declared that he was not its author, and that it should not have been published under his name.
“I was surprised by an article attributed to me published in the English newspaper The Times,” Bashagha said via Twitter. “I hope this grand and respected newspaper inspects accuracy to avoid being involved in publishing false articles.”
Sources at the Times said they thought Bashagha’s social media accounts had been hacked. The newspaper had not responded to an official request for comment, and there were no other signs the accounts had been compromised.
On 10 February, the Speaker of the Libyan Parliament, Ageela Saleh announced the unanimous appointment of Bashagha as the new Prime Minister. Incumbent PM Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba warned that the appointment of a new interim government could lead to war and chaos in the country. He renewed his pledge to only hand power over to an elected government.
Libya has been mired in a political crisis since the fall of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011. Observers fear that Libya will return to having two opposing governments, threatening the nation’s vital oil sector.
The new Libyan government seeks the confidence of the international community, and the United Nations.