Tuesday August 30, 2022

Libyan stalemate that ended in Tripoli violence

Libyan stalemate that ended in Tripoli violence

Libyan capital Tripoli has bacome a battleground where latest clashes have claimed at least 32 lives.

The rival groups in Libya, that of United Nations (UN)-backed Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibahs’ Government of National Unity and that of Fathi Bashagha, who has been appointed prime minister by the Parliament situated in Benghazi, in the eastern part of Libya and backed by eastern military chief Khalifa Haftar have been vying to claim that they are the legitimate government of Libya. Dbeibah’s government enjoys the advantage of being in the capital, Tripoli. Bashagha has been trying to take over Tripoli, and threatened to use force. And the two sides clashed in Tripoli on Saturday, in which 32 people were killed and 159 injured. Though the Libyan capital has become normal again, it has sent alarm signals in the region. Both the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have appealed for peace.

The parliament had replaced Dbeibah because the elections which were to be held in December could not be held because of the failure to reach an understanding of the eligibility of candidates to contest elections for parliament and Dbeibah’s term expired in February. But Dhbeibah enjoys international backing. There is the other problem of private militias in Tripoli supporting one side or other which holds the potential for violence.

The UN mission in Libya in its statement said, “The current political stalemate and all aspects of the crisis that afflict Libya cannot be resolved through armed confrontation. These issues can be only resolved by the Libyan people exercising their right to choose their leaders.” But the efforts to negotiate the nitty-gritty of conducting elections have failed because of the entrenched positions adopted by the different groups.

Meanwhile, the military prosecutor’s office in the ministry of defence issued an arrest warrant for Bashagha, and that of Bashagha’s ally, Major Gen. Osama al-Juwaili, former head of military intelligence service, Bashagha’s minister of health and the government spokesperson Othman Abdel-Jalil, and chairperson of Libya’s Democratic Party Mohamed Sowan. It shows that the divisions between the Tripoli-based establishment and the Benghazi establishment is deep and even difficult to reconcile. Both Bashagha and Haftar have tried to enter Tripoli earlier in the year but they were prevented by the forces supporting the Dbeibah’s government. The argument of Dbeibah is that the next government has to be an elected one. There is the suspicion that Bashagha and Haftar will established a militia-based government and this could lead to further violence.

Libya has not had peace ever since the fall of the Libyan government of Muammar Qadhafi in 2011 when there were revolutions in several countries, including Tunisia and Egypt. While the UN had been making efforts to bring all the groups to the negotiating table, there also entered the scene private militias supported by foreign powers, which had only deepened the political instability in the country.

Libya had been one of the prosperous countries in the region with sizeable oil revenues and an enviable social welfare system, but it was under the grip of Qadhafi. His removal had not really restored democracy though the people were keen to have a democratic set-up. The many factions that have emerged are not willing to compromise. The Bashagha faction is determined that the Dbeibah government must be dislodged and Bashagha made the prime minister. It is not clear who among the international players can play an effective role in resolving the Libyan crisis. The political stalemate affects the economic prospects of the seven million people because no economic activity can take place in a state of uncertainty. Libya will sink into greater economic crisis if the political stalemate continues longer.

← Back>