Gunmen opened fire on the car of Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbaiba in the early hours of the morning, but the head of government was safe, said a source close to his entourage, amid ongoing power struggles in the north.
According to the source, who spoke to the Reuters news agency, the attack was committed as the Prime Minister was returning to his residence, it was undoubtedly an attempt to assassinate Mr. Dbaiba, he stressed. The perpetrators escaped and an investigation is underway, he added.
Reuters notes that it has not seen any visual material from the incident, nor has it been able to speak to eyewitnesses about the incident. If confirmed, the assassination attempt on the Prime Minister will exacerbate the crisis caused by the endless power struggle in Libya.
The head of the Government says that he will defy the result of the vote that will be held today for his replacement. Armed forces have mobilized fighters and equipment and deployed reinforcements in the capital in recent weeks as concerns grow that a new political crisis could spark conflict.
Peace and stability remain in demand in Libya after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi's regime. Since 2014, the country has been cut in two, with two governments and two warring armed factions on their side, in the east and in the west. Other countries and mercenaries were involved in the conflict.
Mr Dbaiba took power in March when he was named head of the UN-backed government of national unity, which is set to unite the country and lead it to elections in December 2021 as part of a slow-moving peace process.
Rival teams competed for good positions in the process, but it collapsed due to disagreements over its rules. The legitimacy of Mr Dhaiba's candidacy for the presidency – a position he vowed not to claim before taking a stand – is being questioned.
Parliament, which favored forces in eastern Libya during the civil war, ousted the national unity government and announced today that it would vote to appoint another prime minister, who would be tasked with forming a new transitional government.
But Mr Dhaiba stressed in a speech this week that he would hand over power only after elections are held. UN envoy to Libya and Western governments have made it clear that they will continue to recognize the government of national unity.
The Libyan parliament also announced this week that elections would not be held this year either, as it and another political body revised the interim constitution, a move that has angered many Libyans who had registered to vote.
Parliament's initiative to elect a new prime minister could mean a return to normalcy before Mr Dhaiba's national unity government is appointed, with two rival factions vying for power in Libya. Analysts, however, do not believe that a resurgence of the civil war is threatened, at least immediately.
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