Once again, Libya is caught in a debilitating impasse between competing factions in Tripoli and Tobruk.
“Libya has two prime ministers. Again. Groundhog day,” Anas El Gomati, Director of Libya’s Sadeq Institute think tank, tweeted recently. Once again, the chronically troubled country has two rival governments: one in the west based in the capital Tripoli and another in the east, in Tobruk.
It’s as if 2021 has simply been torn from the calendar. Last year a consensual interim transitional government representing both east and west was formed, with a promise of presidential and parliamentary elections in December. But the rivals couldn’t agree on the polls, so Libya entered a familiar state of bipolar limbo.
In March 2022, the House of Representatives in Tobruk appointed former interior minister Fathi Bashagha as prime minister to replace Tripoli-based prime minister Abdelhamid Dabaiba. It said Dabaiba’s mandate as interim leader expired in December when elections were due. Dabaiba refused to step down, saying he would only do so for an elected administration.
On 17 May, when Bashagha entered Tripoli to instal his government, armed groups loyal to Dabaiba opened fire and one person was killed. He tried again early in June with the same…