TUNIS (Reuters) -The United Nations voiced concern on Thursday over reports that a vote in Libya’s parliament to install a new government, which risks triggering new fighting or a return to territorial division, “fell short of the expected standards”.
The U.N. secretary general’s spokesperson said in an emailed statement there were reports that Tuesday’s vote did not meet standards of transparency and procedure, and of acts of intimidation before the session.
The parliament plans to swear in Fathi Bashagha as prime minister on Thursday though the incumbent, Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, refuses to hand over power, with both sides having some military support in the capital.
The United Nations is instead focused on renewing its push for elections, the spokesperson said, adding that U.N. Libya adviser Stephanie Williams would soon invite the parliament and an opposing political body, the High Council of State, for talks.
The position of international powers will be key in the coming tussle for control of Libya’s government and political process, with analysts pointing to the risks of another full-blown war or another split between warring administrations.
Libya has had little peace or security since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi and it split in 2014 between rival governments based in Tripoli, in the west, and in the east where the parliament is based.
Neither the political nor the military coalitions that are crystallising now exactly match those that fought from 2014 until a 2020 truce, but any new conflict would again likely pit eastern forces against a combination of western groups.
Dbeibah’s government was put in place a year ago through a U.N.-backed peace process that was aimed at resolving political problems through an election last year, but the vote did not take place amid arguments over the rules.
Since then, the parliament has tried to take control over the process by saying Dbeibah’s term had expired and setting a course towards a referendum on an altered constitution and then elections in 2023.
Dbeibah has rejected the parliament’s stance and says he is planning to hold national elections in June. Both sides blame each other for the failure of December’s election and accuse each other of lacking legitimacy.
The parliament was elected in 2014 and mostly backed the eastern forces of Khalifa Haftar, which laid partial siege to Tripoli from 2019-20, destroying much of the city in an attempt to wrest it from the then internationally recognised government.
(Reporting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Kim Coghill, Robert Birsel)