Libya Crisis Worsens as Rival Government Takes Oath

Fathi Bashagha, designated prime minister, is studying 'all options to take over in Tripoli' as his opponent refuses to cede power

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Libya's presidential candidate and former interior minister Fathi Bashagha in the eastern city of Benghazi in December.
Libya's presidential candidate and former interior minister Fathi Bashagha in the eastern city of Benghazi in December. Credit: ABDULLAH DOMA - AFP

A standoff between two rival governments in Libya worsened on Thursday with the risk of fighting or territorial division. The parliament in the east swore in a new administration while the incumbent in Tripoli refused to cede power.

Addressing the parliament after taking the oath of office, Fathi Bashagha said he was studying all options to take over in Tripoli.

The present prime minister there, Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, has said he will not hand over control.

A newly appointed minister in Libya's new, east-based government resigned earlier, alleging that the voting in of the Cabinet was unfair and failed to include all Libyan factions.

His resignation came on the heels of a UN statement voicing concerns over reports that the voting on the new government was flawed.

Armed groups affiliated with both sides have mobilized in the capital and foreign forces, including from Turkey and Russia, remain entrenched in Libya nearly 18 months after a ceasefire ended the last major bout of warfare.

Underlining the tense situation, Bashagha's office has accused Dbeibah of using force to try to stop his cabinet reaching Tobruk for the parliament session by closing airspace and seizing three ministers who tried to travel by land.

The position of international powers will be key in the coming tussle for control of Libya, with a risk of renewed war after a year and a half of comparative peace between major factions battling for control of the oil-rich state.

The United Nations said the main focus now should be on renewing the push for elections. UN Libya adviser Stephanie Williams will soon invite the parliament and an opposing political body, the High Council of State, for talks.

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