Rival Libya Leader Says No Plans to Rule from Tripoli


One of Libya’s rival prime ministers told The Associated Press that he has no immediate plans to rule from the capital of Tripoli, after his attempted move there last week sparked clashes and fears of a return to widespread civil strife. In an interview late Wednesday, Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha said that his government will work from its headquarters in Sirte, a city on the Mediterranean coast about halfway between the country’s east and west. Rival administrations from each end of Libya claim to be its legitimate rulers until elections are held. Describing last week’s events, Bashagha said he had entered Tripoli in a civilian car and that those escorting him were unarmed. A young man was killed during the incident. Bashagha identified him as Ahmed Alashabab, calling him a supporter who was defending him from militiamen. “We do blame ourselves for having entered the city,” he said. “I had said that I would not enter the capital unless conditions were 100% favorable.”  

Oil-rich Libya has been wracked by conflict since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. It has been split between rival administrations in the east and west, each supported by different militias and foreign governments. The establishment of Bashagha’s government in Sirte is likely to further cement the political divide. Bashagha, a former interior minister and air force pilot, was named prime minister by the country’s east-based parliament in February. But his rival, Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, based in Tripoli in the country’s west, has refused to step down, insisting he will hand over power only to an elected government. Last week’s fighting in Tripoli was the most serious there since 2020, when east-based commander Khalifa Hifter and his forces waged a yearlong campaign to try to take the city with backing from Russian mercenaries. 

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