Crisis deepens in Libya as parliament backs new government with disputed vote

Libya’s parliament approves new government but UN-backed Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah rejects vote, raising risk of renewed fighting among armed factions

The parliament has voted in Fathi Bashagha as prime minister
The parliament has voted in Fathi Bashagha as prime minister

Libya’s parliament has approved a new government, but the incumbent prime minister has rejected the vote, vowing not to cede power.

The crisis is now raising the risk of renewed fighting among armed factions and territorial partition between rival administrations.

The parliament’s declaration installing Fathi Bashagha as prime minister after a televised vote has aggravated a power struggle with the administration of Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, who was installed through the U.N.-backed process last year.

Opposing armed groups mobilised in the Tripoli over recent weeks, with Libya once again without a unified government, and its main political and military forces bitterly divided.

Foreign forces from Turkey and Russia backing rival warring factions remain in the country.

Fathi Bashagha said he had made arrangements with “security and military authorities” to set up his government in Tripoli. But armed groups opposing his installation as prime minister are backed by eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, who also holds most oil facilities which produce 1.3-million-barrels-per-day in crude exports.

Bashagha’s has formed a large Cabinet of 35 members, reflectinh the extensive negotiations and promises of positions needed to secure support from a majority of MPs.

The government was approved by 92 of 101 members present in the chamber on Tuesday, compared with the 132 who installed Dbeibah a year ago.

The Dbeibah administration claims MPs’ votes were registered although they were not there, raising questions over its validity.

Since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has stayed divided after 2014 between warring parallel administrations in the east and west.

The United Nations backed a peace process after Haftar’s eastern offensive against Tripoli collapsed in 2020, to install Dbeibah’s interim unity government.

Elections in 2021 were cancelled, and the House of Representatives which represents the eastern side in the war, moved to replace Dbeibah’s government. Dbeibah accuses it of sabotaging the December election.