Parliament-backed Libya PM Bashagha leaves capital after clashes

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Libya’s parliament-appointed prime minister Fathi Bashagha left the capital Tripoli on Tuesday, his office said, hours after his attempt to enter the city led to clashes between rival factions.

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Clashes erupted earlier on Tuesday as Bashagha arrived to try to take control of government from a rival administration that has refused to cede power.

Reuters journalists in Tripoli could hear the sound of gunfire and Al Hadath television published video clips showing what it said was fighting downtown and in the port.

The violence followed Bashagha’s entry into the city overnight accompanied by an armed faction. His office released a statement saying it would carry on its duties from inside the capital.

Bashagha’s appointment in March led to a standoff between two rival governments that both claim legitimacy and are each backed by armed factions in Tripoli and western Libya, raising fears that two years of comparative peace may soon end.

Libya has had little security since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi and it split in 2014 between rival eastern and western factions before a 2020 truce that brought the country under a fragile unity government.

A plan to hold an election in December collapsed amid arguments among major factions and prominent candidates over the rules and the parliament, which had sided with the east during the war, moved to appoint a new administration.

The unity government’s prime minister, Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, rejected the parliament’s moves saying his administration was still valid and he would only hand over power after an election.

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