Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah
(Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah)

Libyan PM escapes unhurt after gunmen fire at his car

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Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah escaped an assassination attempt Thursday (Feb. 10) according to media reports, amid intense factional wrangling for control of the North African country’s government.

Shots were fired toward Dbeibah’s vehicle from another vehicle that managed to flee the scene, Reuters reported citing a source close to the interim leader.

Exclusive footage obtained by Al Jazeera showed what appeared to be a bullet hole in the windscreen of the prime minister’s car.
The incident has been referred to Libya’s chief prosecutor for investigation.

If confirmed, the failed assassination attempt would further aggravate a deeply divided nation, split between rival administrations in the east and west, each supported by militias and foreign governments.

The reports came ahead of a vote scheduled by the eastern parliament later on Thursday to replace Dbeibah.

A powerful businessman from the city of Misrata, Dbeibah, was named interim leader last year. As head of the United Nations-backed Government of National Unity (GNU), he was tasked with leading Libya to elections on December 24.

The elections were canceled and the eastern parliament which is based in the city of Tobruk has said they will not take place this year either.

Dbeibah was given the caretaker role on the condition that he not contest the election but since announcing a presidential bid that broke his pledge not to run in elections, he had become a polarizing figure.

On Thursday, parliament members are scheduled to pick a new interim leader from between two candidates: powerful former interior minister Fathi Bashagha, 59, and outsider Khaled al-Bibass, 51, a former official in the interior ministry.

Dbeibah said in a speech earlier this week that he would only hand over power after an election

“I will accept no new transitional phase or parallel authority,” he said, declaring that his Tripoli-based government would only hand over power to “an elected government”.

The UN, Western powers, and even some members of parliament have called for Dbeibah to stay in his role until the election. A new date for the vote is yet to be confirmed.

UPDATE 10/02/2022

Tobruk-based parliament names new PM

(Libyan former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha has been named new PM by Tobruk parliament- Photo File: Hazem Ahmed/Reuters)

Libya’s east-based parliament has named former Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga to replace Dbeibah as head of a new interim government, according to the parliament spokesman Abdullah Bliheg.

The development will likely produce two parallel administrations.

“Dbeibah is refusing to step down, so there is potential for some kind of conflict in Tripoli and beyond,” Amanda Kadlec, a former member of the UN Panel of Experts on Libya, told AFP news agency. “It could get ugly really fast.”

With reporting by Reuters, AL Jazeera, Asharq Al-Awsat, DW, AFP