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Libya council in showdown with Dbeibah's gov’t

By AFP - Nov 14,2022 - Last updated at Nov 14,2022

TRIPOLI — A key state body in Libya accused the government of prime minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah on Monday of preventing it from meeting, reviving political tensions in a country that has seen a decade of violence.

The high council of state's accusations came after armoured vehicles from an armed group commanded by Dbeibah's administration surrounded a major hotel in the capital Tripoli, preventing council members from entering, according to images broadcast by local media.

The council's head, Khaled Al Mishri, said in a video statement on Facebook that the body had been due to vote on a constitutional basis for elections.

Polls had been set for December 2021 to elect a replacement for Dbeibah's government, but were indefinitely postponed.

Mishri said the hotel had cancelled the reservation of a conference room, citing "government instructions".

He added that "no [other] hotel has agreed to rent us" a conference hall.

The meeting was also set to discuss "the unification of executive power", implying that it would cover the fate of Dbeibah's government.

Libya has been plagued by violence since the fall of Muammar Qadhafi's regime in 2011.

Mishri said Monday's move was "the first time since the February 17 revolution [of 2011] that a head of government has tried to prevent a sovereign institution from doing its work".

Dbeibah was appointed as part of a United Nations-guided peace process following the last major battle in Libya in 2020, but the eastern-based parliament and military strongman Khalifa Haftar say his mandate has expired.

In March, parliament appointed a new government to take his place, but the rival administration has failed to install itself in Tripoli.

In a statement later on Monday, the US embassy urged Libyan leaders to "resolve their political differences through dialogue and compromise" and to deliver "credible, transparent, and inclusive elections".

"The threat of force is de-stabilising, undermines efforts toward national unity, and is not a legitimate or sustainable way to resolve political differences," the embassy wrote on Twitter.

Mishri has lodged an official complaint with the country's chief prosecutor, according to the council's Facebook page, which posted a picture of him delivering the complaint by hand.

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