Two prime ministers and one Libya only. Journalist Ahmed Atoumi explains the situation in Misurata

By Vanessa Tomassini.

Two premieres, Abdel Hamid Al-Dabaiba and Fathi Bashagha. Both from Misrata, they are competing for only one country: Libya. The first, head of the Government of National Unity, was supposed to accompany Libya to the elections on December 24, 2021. The second has been appointed Prime Minister designated Thursday by the House of Representatives (HoR). Between predictions, demonstrations and celebrations, we asked the Libyan journalist and reporter Ahmed Atoumi – also from Misurata – to help us understand the situation there.

Thank you, Ahmed, for accepting this interview. How is the situation in the city of Misurata and what are the latest political developments?

“The city of Misurata is witnessing these days a great acceleration in political events, especially since the head of government who was appointed by the Parliament is from Misurata, as well as the current head of government, which led to a difference of opinion among the residents of the city”.

How the people welcomed the appointment of Fathi Bashagha as a new prime minister by the House of Representatives, and what were the reactions so far?

“The reactions vary between supporters and opponents. However, the tribal council in the city and the revolutionary brigades reject this government and reaffirms their affiliation to the government of national unity emanating from the agreement of all Libyan parties in Geneva.”

Why did the elders of Misurata reject the appointment of Bashagha?

“The Misurata notables rejected the new Government because of their adherence to the parliamentary elections and its belief that the House of Representatives and the High Council of State are trying to stay in power for a longer period.”

Do you think Bashagha and Dabaiba can find an agreement to avoid further divisions?

“There are many rumors regarding an undisclosed agreement between Dabaiba and Bashagha, but so far nothing official has emerged.”

Are we going back to a stage with two parallel governments?

“Many local politicians and observers of public opinion believe that Libya will return to the pre-Geneva Agreement with two governments, especially because of Dabaiba government refusing to transfer the power to Bashagha”.

Misurata also has heterogeneous armed groups. Can you help us understand which armed groups support Dabaiba and which armed groups are in favor of Bashagha in Misurata?

“Most of the rebel brigades in the city of Misurata so far support the Dabaiba government, and they confirmed this through the statements it issued through its official websites and pages, and there has been no change in their positions so far.”

The youth of Misurata fought many wars but never inside the city. Do you expect an armed confrontation in Tripoli?

So far, there are no signs of an armed conflict, but it remains a possibility, and if it happens, it will happen in Tripoli, because it is the capital and the center of power in Libya.

Bashagha allied with Haftar, but also Dabaiba visited the eastern region several times. What are the main differences between Bashagha and Dabaiba?

“Certainly, there are very big differences between Bashagha and Dabaiba. Bashagha is considered the son of the February 17 revolution and was part of several political and armed conflicts for ten years, but Dabaiba did not enter into any disputes after the Revolution. The irony now is that Bashagha allied with Haftar and most of the people of Medina Misurata, Tripoli and the western region do not want any alliance with Haftar and do not want him to be in power in any way.”

Dabaiba hinted that the Muslim Brotherhood allied itself with the army, is this true? Does Bashagha represent the Muslim Brotherhood?

“In my view, it is not possible to accuse Bashagha directly of being a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood, especially with his denial in many occasions, but the Muslim Brotherhood is still present in the Libyan scene and supports many of the conflicting parties for power”.

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