Clashes break out in Tripoli, drive rival Libyan PM away

May 17, 2022, 1:51 PM | Updated: 3:02 pm
Forces loyal to Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, one of Libya’s two rival prime ministers, secure the streets...

Forces loyal to Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, one of Libya’s two rival prime ministers, secure the streets of the capital, Tripoli, Tuesday May, 17, 2022. Clashes broke out in Tripoli after Dbeibah’s rival, Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha, announced his arrival in the city on Tuesday morning. But Bashagha left soon after the fighting started. (AP Photo/Yousef Murad)

(AP Photo/Yousef Murad)

CAIRO (AP) — An attempt by one of Libya’s rival prime ministers to seat his government in the capital of Tripoli triggered clashes Tuesday between competing militias, forcing the newly appointed premier to leave the city.

The development underscored the fragility of the situation in the war-wracked country while the two rival prime ministers blamed each other for the escalation.

Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha’s office said he had arrived in Tripoli with a number of Cabinet ministers early Tuesday — three months after his appointment to lead an interim government.

The move was likely to fuel more tensions between Libya’s rival administrations and in the morning, local media reported clashes between different militias and rival forces in central Tripoli and elsewhere in the city.

The Tripoli-based government of embattled Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah slammed Bashagha, describing Tuesday’s developments as an armed group’s “desperate attempt to spread terror and chaos” in the Libyan capital — a reference to Bashagha.

Debeibah was seen inspecting damage caused by the fighting in Tripoli and chatting with residents in the streets, according to videos broadcast by local media.

Residents reported hearing heavy gunfire across the city. “There was shooting and gunfire everywhere,” said Salim Ahmed, a schoolteacher. Some Tripoli schools suspended classes.

Bashagha’s office said he and his ministers later left Tripoli “for the sake of the security and safety of citizens and to stop the bloodshed.” Bashagha tweeted that they had entered the city “peacefully, without using violence” but were met with a “dangerous military escalation” from armed groups loyal to his rival.

Both governments reported that at least one man was killed by gunfire and five others were wounded in the clashes.

A Western diplomat in Tripoli said Bashagha entered the city accompanied by the Nawasi Brigade militia but they faced stiff resistance from militias loyal to Dbeibah.

Another militia, known as the 444 Brigades, mediated between the rivals and facilitated the withdrawal of Bashagha, according to the diplomat, who demanded anonymity to speak about the events.

The U.N. special adviser on Libya, Stephanie Williams, urged calm and for rival parties to engage in talks to resolve their disputes.

“Conflict cannot be solved with violence, but with dialogue and mediation,” she tweeted, adding that the United Nations is ready to host all parties “in helping Libya find a genuine, consensual way forward towards stability and elections.”

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said to reporters that the U.S. was “highly concerned” by the violence in Libya and appealed for all sides to “recognize that trying to seize or retain power through force will only hurt the people of Libya.”

“It’s critical for Libyan leaders to find consensus to avoid clashes, like the ones we saw yesterday. We continue to believe that the only viable path to legitimate leadership is by allowing Libyans to choose their leaders through free and fair elections,” Price said.

Bashagha, a former interior minister, was named prime minister by the country’s east-based parliament in February. But Dbeibah, a wealthy businessman, has refused to step down, insisting he will hand over power only to an elected government. Dbeibah was appointed last year in a U.N.-led process, mired with alleged corruption and bribery, to lead the country through elections in December that never took place. Both men hail from the powerful western city of Misrata.

Jalel Harchaoui, a Libya researcher, said the violence that unfolded during Bashagha’s brief presence inside Tripoli reflected his “clear failure.” Dbeibah enjoys the support of well-financed armed groups — not only in the capital but also in Misrata — that are fierce opponents of east-based military commander Khalifa Hifter, with whom Bashagha is now aligned, said Harchaoui.

The latest violence is likely to undermine ongoing talks in the Egyptian capital between the east-based parliament and the High Council of State, an advisory body from western Libya, on constitutional amendments for elections.

Over the weekend, rival militias clashed in Tripoli’s Janzour neighborhood. No casualties were reported but local authorities said there was damage to infrastructure, including a power plant. The U.N. mission in Libya condemned the clashes and said they involved indiscriminate fire and reports of heavy weapons use in the densely populated neighborhood.

Lawmakers have argued that Dbeibah’s mandate expired after Libya failed to hold presidential elections in December. The failure was a major blow to international efforts to end decade of chaos in Libya. It opened a new chapter in Libya’s long-running political impasse, with rival governments claiming power after tentative steps toward unity past year.

The impasse worsened over the past two months and the closure of oil facilities, including Libya’s largest oil field, in areas controlled by Hifter’s forces was likely a move to deprive Debeibah’s government of funds and boost his rival.

The oil-rich country has been wrecked by conflict since the NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Libya has since been split between rival administrations in the east and west, each supported by different militias and foreign governments.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - People look on from the super yacht Amadea as it arrives to the San Diego Bay Monday, June 2...
Associated Press

$30B from Russian oligarchs frozen under REPO seizure effort

WASHINGTON (AP) — A multinational task force designed to seize Russian oligarchs’ wealth has blocked and frozen $30 billion in sanctioned individuals’ property and funds in its first 100 days in operation, the Treasury Department reported Wednesday. That’s on top of the yachts, other vessels and luxury real estate that have been impounded as well […]
3 hours ago
Dutch farmers protesting against the government’s plans to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and...
Associated Press

Dutch PM condemns farmers’ protests at minister’s home

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch prime minister condemned Wednesday a violent protest by farmers outside the home of the country’s agriculture minister amid increasingly bold demonstrations against the government’s plans to rein in pollution. A small group of farmers clashed Tuesday night with police stationed outside the home of Christianne van der Wal, […]
3 hours ago
Associated Press

Italian surgeon gets his sentence appealed in Sweden case

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Swedish prosecutors on Wednesday appealed a sentence given to an Italian surgeon who was put on trial for causing bodily harm during experimental stem-cell windpipe transplants on three patients who died. Stem-cell scientist Dr. Paolo Macchiarini made headlines in 2011 for carrying out the world’s first stem-cell windpipe transplants at Sweden’s […]
3 hours ago
A staff of Rappler monitors as Filipino journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa talks d...
Associated Press

Ressa says Philippine courts to decide Rappler closure order

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa said her Rappler news website was operating “business as usual” Wednesday and would let Philippine courts decide on a government order to close the outlet critical of the outgoing Duterte administration and its deadly drug crackdown. The Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday affirmed […]
3 hours ago
NATO leaders pose for a group photo following the official welcome for the NATO summit in Madrid, S...
Associated Press

NATO chief: Alliance faces biggest challenge since WWII

MADRID (AP) — NATO leaders hoped to turn an urgent sense of purpose triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine into action at a summit Wednesday — and to patch up any cracks in their unity over money and mission. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance’s meeting in Madrid came “in the midst of the most […]
3 hours ago
NATO leaders pose for a group photo following the official welcome for the NATO summit in Madrid, S...
Sponsored Content by

MADRID (AP) — NATO leaders hoped to turn an urgent sense of purpose triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine into action at a summit Wednesday — and to patch up any cracks in their unity over money and mission. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance’s meeting in Madrid came “in the midst of the most […]

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Clashes break out in Tripoli, drive rival Libyan PM away