Rival Libya government enters capital, prompting clashes

Clashes broke out between rival armed groups shortly after the prime minister of the Libyan government, Fathi Bashagha, entered the western city, an AFP journalist reported.

 Parliament-backed Prime Minister of Libya Fathi Bashagha. Picture: Mahmud Turkia/AFP

TRIPOLI, Libya - The rival government appointed by Libya's eastern-based parliament said Tuesday it had arrived in the capital, where the unity government has refused to cede power, prompting fighting between their militia backers.

Its press service announced "the arrival of the prime minister of the Libyan government, Fathi Bashagha, accompanied by several ministers, in the capital Tripoli to begin his work there."

Clashes broke out between rival armed groups shortly after he entered the western city, an AFP journalist reported.

In February, the parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk designated former interior minister Bashagha as prime minister.

But he has failed to oust the Tripoli-based unity administration led by premier Abdulhamid Dbeibah, who has said repeatedly he will only cede power to an elected government.

Dbeibah's government was formed in 2020 as part of United Nations-led efforts to draw a line under a decade of conflict since a NATO-backed revolt toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

Dbeibah was to lead the country until elections last December, but they were indefinitely postponed and his political opponents argue that his mandate has now finished.

The rise of Bashagha's government gives the North African country two rival administrations, as was the case between 2014 and a 2020 ceasefire.