On Tuesday, the Libyan Prime Minister-designate, Fathi Bashagha strongly criticized his rival Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba, claiming that “he has no legitimacy, and his interim mandate as a Premier has expired.”
During a press conference in Sirte, Bashagha said that he had withdrawn from Tripoli after a failed attempt to assume power in the capital. This resulted in armed clashes on Tuesday morning.
He confirmed that a civilian died after armed forces loyal to Dbaiba, attacked his convoy.
“We entered the capital using civilian cars,” Bashagha told reporters in Sirte. “Our entrance to the capital was peaceful, until forces from the other side initiated fire. Our government will start working from Sirte tomorrow, and we will not enter Tripoli again, without guaranteeing that not a single drop of blood is shed.”
Bashagha thanked Osama Al-Juwaili, Dbaiba’s former military intelligence chief, for his “patriotic role”. The premier did not disclose the nature of Al-Juwaili’s actions, with regard to the failed attempt to enter Tripoli.
Al-Juwaili was dismissed by Dbaiba, just hours after the clashes erupted.
Bashagha condemned the armed groups in Tripoli, which sided with Dbaiba’s government, which he described as a “government of nepotism.”
His media office said the PM decided to leave Tripoli hours after his arrival “to stop bloodshed and ensure the safety and security of the people.”
Bashagha entered Tripoli overnight accompanied by allied fighters in the hope of taking over government but was quickly met by opposition from forces aligned with Dbaiba. This is Bashagha’s second failed attempt to enter Tripoli.
Libya has been mired in a political crisis since the fall of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.
The eastern-based Libyan Parliament announced the unanimous appointment of Bashagha as the new Prime Minister on 10 February. But Dbaiba warned that the appointment of a new interim government could lead to war and chaos in the country. Dbaiba has renewed his pledge to only hand power over to an elected government.
In March, Bashagha warned of the collapse of the ceasefire agreement if the outgoing government continues to refuse to hand over power to him.
“The outgoing government’s continued usurpation of power and the threat of violence threatens to unravel the ceasefire agreement, and undermine national and international efforts to hold elections,” Bashagha said.
He reiterated that his government has the ability to enter Tripoli, “but prefers to enter it peacefully and without bloodshed.”