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Monday, Mar 04, 2024

Libya parliament replaces its appointed PM, spokesperson says

Libya parliament replaces its appointed PM, spokesperson says

One of Libya’s rival administrations voted on Tuesday to suspend its prime minister, who has been placed under investigation, the parliament’s spokesperson said.
Fathi Bashagha was the prime minister of Libya’s eastern-based parliament, known as the House of Representatives, which operates in Tobruk. The reason for Bashagha’s suspension and investigation was not immediately clear.

The House of Representatives finance minister, Osama Hamada, has taken over Bashagha’s duties, spokesperson Abdullah Belhaiq said.

Bashagha, a former interior minister and air force pilot, was appointed prime minister by the House of Representatives in February 2022.

Torn by civil conflict since 2011, Libya is divided between two rival governments, each backed by international patrons and numerous armed militias on the ground.

Libya’s western government is based in the capital Tripoli and is headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.

The UN’s special representative to Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily, unveiled an initiative in late February aiming to usher the divided country to the ballot box before the end of 2023.

Both parliaments have agreed upon a joint committee to draft electoral law for the vote, however progress has since slowed.

Bashagha was appointed in March 2022 but his efforts to enter Tripoli and take office ended in battles between factions aligned with him and others aligned with Dbeibah, and he has had to operate outside Tripoli with no control of state finances.

He wrote to the parliament earlier on Tuesday saying he was handing his duties over to his deputy Ali Qatrani, without saying whether or when he planned to resume them. A source close to him said Bashagha was taking a personal leave.

Votes and other steps announced by parliamentary authorities have sometimes later been denied by other members of the chamber who accuse the speaker Aguila Saleh of pushing through policies without proper procedure. Saleh has denied this.

Libya has had little peace since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against Muammar Qaddafi, and it split in 2014 between warring eastern and western factions, though major fighting has been paused since a ceasefire in 2020.

Dbeibah’s government was installed through a UN-backed process in 2021 that was aimed at holding elections that year, but the vote was canceled amid disputes over the rules.

Senior figures in parliament have pushed for a new interim government before any election, a move their opponents see as a delaying tactic to put off a vote and hang onto their positions.

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