Panafrican News Agency

Libyan newspaper highlights fears of a head-on clash between the two prime ministers' camps in Libya

Tripoli, Libya (PANA) - The political atmosphere in Libya is becoming increasingly unhealthy with the accentuation of tension in the country following the appearance of two separate prime ministers, after the appointment by the parliament of former interior minister Fathi Bachagha to form a new government.

The Libyan newspaper "Al-Wasat", said that the two sides are determined to stick to their positions, risking a head-on clash, while Prime Minister Abdelhamid al-Dbaiba was determined to see the roadmap through to the end in June.

Al-Wasat said that in the midst of the celebration of the 11th anniversary of the 17 February Revolution, the war of communiqués raged between the main political parties of the Libyan crisis, led by the House of Representatives (Parliament) and the High State Council, against the backdrop of recent decisions by the Parliament, including the termination of the mandate of the current Prime Minister, Abdelmamid al-Dbaiba, and the appointment of the former Minister of Interior, Fathi Bachaga, ensuring that this resulted in two lines, one in favour of maintaining the al-Dbaiba government, and the other in support of the appointment of Fathi Bachagha.

In mid-February, the Libyan Parliament and the High State Council reached an agreement on the adoption of an amendment to the Constitutional Declaration, according to which a committee of equal numbers of the two institutions and experts will be formed to revise the draft Constitution, as a prelude to a popular referendum, as well as elections within 14 months, thus instituting a new transitional phase with the appointment of a new Prime Minister.

The Libyan weekly published in Cairo, Egypt, stressed that both sides continue to complete their steps on the ground to prevail their line, saying that al-Dbaiba has charged a ministerial committee to develop a plan for the holding of elections, while his opponent has launched its consultations to form its executive body.

He assured that in the face of this state of alignment, the fear of the situation tipping into a state of conflict is more than real, which has prompted the leaders of the city of the "two rivals", Misrata, to try to contain the situation and contain the escalation on the ground, while the international community has not shown a decisive position aligning itself with the ongoing change.

The Prime Minister of the national unity government, Abdelhamid al-Dbaiba, announced on Friday evening, during an address to citizens who came to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the 17 February revolution in Tripoli, that he will present a plan in the next two days to organise parliamentary elections and a referendum on the Constitution within a timeframe not exceeding June next year in application of the roadmap adopted by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum.

Al-Wasat pointed out that with the advent of the anniversary of the 17 February revolution, which ended the 42-year rule of Col. Muammar Gaddafi, "the state of political and security instability accompanying the Libyan crisis continues, marred by many concerns, including the return of a possible head-on clash, while the eye is still on the armed groups deployed in the country, especially the capital Tripoli.

As part of the anchoring of this competition, the newspaper reported that the Parliament strengthens its legal position by confirming that the Prime Minister-designate has obtained more than 50 sponsorships, which is the required number, and therefore the role of the State Council has ended regarding the issue of the change of the executive authority, a statement that led 54 members of the State Council out of 145 members to retaliate by confirming that the amendment of the Constitutional Declaration is incompatible with the Political Agreement, and the vote of no confidence against the national unity government is void.

Last September, the parliament passed a motion of no confidence without the consent of the State Council which is required, according to the Libyan Political Agreement signed in 2015 in Skhirat, Morocco.

The Libyan weekly highlighted the efforts of Prime Minister-designate Fathi Bachagha, who continued consultations to form his new government, moving between Misrata and Benghazi, in several meetings with political and parliamentary parties and social components, as well as the general command of the eastern-based Libyan National Army.

In the meantime, al-Dabaiba continued to conduct his governmental activities in a normal manner, considering, according to the newspaper, that "the people have the right to question any movement that comes with political orientations because they have lost their credibility with the elites in place", in reference to his rejection of the actions of Bachagha and the parliament to replace him.

Al-Dbaiba's other challenge was to call on his ministers, at a meeting he chaired in the capital Tripoli, to continue implementing government programmes in all cities and instructed the justice minister to form an independent legal team to draft an electoral law.

Externally, however, Al-Wasat newspaper said that while international parties were concerned about the possibility of a new conflict, well-informed sources questioned the role that the Central Bank of Libya, through its governor, Seddik al-Kebir, could play in dealing with either government.

The newspaper reported the position of the European Council on Foreign Relations, suggesting that European countries influencing Bashagha and Aguila Saleh should focus on developing a new electoral roadmap, if Libya is to avoid war.

The United Nations on Wednesday called on "all stakeholders" in Libya to maintain calm in the capital, Tripoli, in response to media reports of intercepted military signals in the capital.

The UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Libya, Stephanie Williams, continues to broaden her consultations after meeting with the two prime ministers, Fathi Bachagha and Abdelhamid al-Dbaiba, the chairman of the High State Council, Khaled al-Mechri and the Presidential Council's chairman, Mohamed al-Manfi and vice-chairman, Abdallah al-Lafi, the newspaper said.

However, House Speaker Aguila Saleh, according to the newspaper, sent an indirect message to Williams not to interfere in the issue of choosing a new government.

Al-Wasat noted that the international community is closely following the developments in Libya, without expressing a clear-cut position in favour of any of the parties to the conflict, with the exception of Russia and Egypt, which reacted early on by welcoming what the Libyan parliament will decide on the executive authority.

-0- PANA BY/JSG/BBA/VAO 19Feb2022