Panafrican News Agency

UN chief speaks with Libya's rival PM Bachagha, as diplomatic activities to avoid another war continue

New York, US (PANA) - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday spoke on phone with Libya's rival Prime Minister, Fathi Bachagha, as the flurry of diplomatic activities to avoid another civil war in the North African country continue unabated.

Mr Guterres discussed the latest developments in Libya with Mr. Bachagha, the former Minister of the Interior of the erstwhile Government of National Accord (GNA), who was sworn in early this month, as Prime Minister-designate by Parliament based in the east, a UN statement said.

"The Secretary-General expressed deep concern at the ongoing political polarization in Libya, which carries significant risks for Libya’s hard-won stability," the statement said.

It added that Mr Guterres stressed the need for all actors "to preserve calm and stability on the ground", while reiterating the UN’s "firm rejection for the use of violence, intimidation and hate speech".

Mr Guterres added that the current stalemate required "urgent dialogue" to find a consensual way forward" and reiterated his full support to mediation efforts as carried out by his Special Adviser on Libya, Ms. Stephanie Williams.

Ever since the scheduled 24 December presidential election was postponed because of inadequacies in electoral legislation and challenges related to candidates’ eligibility, the struggle for power between the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNU), led by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid al-Dbaiba, and the eastern-based Parliament led by Aguila Saleh, has reached dangerous levels.

This has led to fears of a civil war, as the political impasse has threatened to see Libya fractured again by two parallel governments. Parliament last year failed to approve a budget for Mr. al-Dbaiba's government and passed a vote of no confidence in him.

This rivalry reached another peak when Parliament declared that the term of office of the GNU had ended after the failed election and voted to designate a new Prime Minister and government, over the objections of al-Dbaiba, who refused to step down. 

Nevertheless, the House of Representatives went forward with the formation of a new government, designating Bachagha as the new Prime Minister.

In another twist, on 24 February, the High State Council, based in the internationally-recognised administration’s centre of government in Tripoli, and born out of the UN-supported Libyan Political Agreement of 2015, rejected the parliamentary declaration, setting up a serious impasse that is now once again ramping up tensions in the conflict-wrought nation.

While the situation on the ground remains relatively calm, reports are emerging of threatening rhetoric, rising political tensions and divided loyalties among the armed groups in western Libya.

The UN chief's Special Adviser on Libya, the US, the Arab League and several countries have been working fervently and presenting various alternatives to break the deadlock for the rival groups to agree a constitutional basis of elections as soon as possible.

-0- PANA MA 18March2022