After a few hours of violence, Libya has returned to the situation of political stagnation in which it has been plunged for several months. On Tuesday at dawn, fighting broke out in Tripoli as Parliament-backed Prime Minister Fathi Bachagha attempted to enter the capital to replace the other interim Prime Minister in place for a year, Abdelhamid Dbeibah.
The armed factions that support each side have engaged in fighting in the city center and the port, according to images broadcast by al-Hadath TV channel. Videos posted on social networks suggest exchanges of gunfire. Buildings were damaged and cars burnt out. After several hours of fighting, Fathi Bachagha and his ministers announced that they had “left Tripoli to preserve security […] citizens “.
The Libyan capital had not experienced such an eruption of violence for two years. The security situation had improved markedly in the country since the signing of a ceasefire in 2020 between the competing institutions of the East and the West which have polarized the country since the fall of the Gaddafi regime.
However, the national reconciliation process overseen by the UN failed last year, again leaving room for confusion between two rival executives. The government in Tripoli first, led by Abdelhamid Dbeibah, which had been set up within the framework of the peace process led by the UN with the mission of organizing presidential and legislative elections last December. These did not ultimately take place, but Abdelhamid Dbeibah refuses to leave power, arguing that he is only supposed to pass it on to an elected successor.
Opposite, the government supported by the eastern camp, including the powerful Marshal Haftar, is led by Fathi Bachagha, former Minister of the Interior. Originally from Misrata, in the West, but rather well perceived in the East, he was appointed Prime Minister by Parliament in mid-February to get Libya out of the crisis. With his coup last night, he hoped to finally take power in Tripoli.
A situation conducive to the outbreak of armed clashes in the country, especially since the allegiances of armed groups to each camp are shifting.
A status quo destined to last
The special adviser to the UN secretary general for Libya, Stephanie Williams, urged this Tuesday on Twitter “to restraint and the absolute necessity to refrain from any provocative action”. “The good offices of the United Nations remain at the disposal of all parties who believe they can help Libya find a real and consensual path towards stability and elections,” she adds.
3/3 Conflict cannot be solved with violence, but with dialogue and mediation, and to this end, the good offices of the United Nations remain available to all parties who believe in helping Libya find a genuine, consensual way forward towards stability and elections.
— Stephanie Turco Williams (@SASGonLibya) May 17, 2022
The status quo seems destined to last. For researcher Jalel Harchaoui, a specialist in the country, the events of the night will “embolde” Abdelhamid Dbeibah, he wrote on Twitter, while “ministers and allies of Fathi Bachagha will pay less attention to the latter in the future. “.