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Libya rival PM leaves Tripoli after battles

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TRIPOLI, Libya (AFP) — Libya’s rival government announced it was leaving the capital Tripoli Tuesday, hours after its arrival there to begin work triggered heavy fighting between opposing militias.

Fathi Bashagha, who was named premier in February by the parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk, and his ministers “have left Tripoli to preserve the security and safety of citizens,” a statement from their press service said.

Bashagha has been attempting to take over government institutions in Tripoli, but Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah has insisted he will only cede power to an elected successor.

Clashes broke out between rival armed groups shortly after Bashagha and his ministers 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 Dbeibah.

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 North Atlantic Treaty Organization-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.

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