Libya’s parliament appoints new prime minister, raising another challenge to the unity government

Libya’s war-torn parliament on Thursday appointed a former interior minister as prime minister, in defiance of the administration of interim Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dabaiba.

“The House of Representatives unanimously agreed that Fathi Bashagha should head the government,” House of Representatives spokesman Abdullah Belhij said in a tweet on Twitter.

This move threatens to ignite a new power struggle between the eastern assembly and the Dabaiba administration based in Tripoli, western Libya.

The billionaire, appointed a year ago as part of a UN-led peace effort, has vowed only to hand power to a government produced by the ballot box.

His administration had a mandate to lead the country to elections on December 24, but it was scrapped amid bitter divisions over the legal basis and the nominations of several controversial figures.

Since then, Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh, who like Dabaiba and Bashagha was a presidential candidate, has led efforts to replace the unity government.

The council had considered seven candidates to lead the administration, but shortly before Thursday’s vote, Saleh announced that Bashagha’s only remaining competitor, a former Interior Ministry official, Khaled al-Babbas, had withdrawn from the race.

Cut live TV broadcasts before voting takes place.

In a televised speech on Tuesday, Dabaiba pledged that he would “not accept any new transitional phase or parallel authority” and announced that he would hand power only to an elected government.

Both Bashagha and Dabaiba have the support of rival armed groups in the Libyan capital.

The United Nations, Western powers and even some members of parliament have called for Dabaiba to remain in office until elections are held, for which a new date has not yet been set.

Thursday’s vote threatens to repeat the 2014 split that saw the emergence of two parallel governments.


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