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Libyan PM survives reported assassination attempt

Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah speaks after submitting his candidacy papers for the upcoming presidential election at the headquarters of the electoral commission in Tripoli, Libya, on November 21, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

Libya’s Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah has reportedly survived an assassination attempt in the capital, Tripoli, amid an ongoing tussle for power in the North African country.

Assailants fired a barrage of bullets at Dbeibah's car as he was returning home early on Thursday, a source close to the premier told Reuters, who described the attack as a clear assassination attempt.

The source said Dbeibah escaped the attack “unharmed,” but the attackers fled and an investigation was due.

The assassination attempt could aggravate the crisis over control of the government in Libya.

The Thursday incident took place hours before a parliament session that is due to consider choosing a new prime minister, an idea rejected by Dbeibah, who confirmed that he will hand over power only to an elected government and will not allow a new transitional phase in Libya.

Armed forces have mobilized more fighters and equipment in the capital over recent weeks, raising fears the political crisis could trigger fighting.

Libya has been grappling with violence since the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 during an operation backed by NATO.

Dbeibah was selected through a UN-facilitated process last February. He was due to serve in his post until elections that were planned on December 24 last year. However, the parliament announced on December 22 that the planned presidential election would not go ahead. It did not set a new date for the election.

The postponement of the long-awaited election has now left an internationally-backed peace process in chaos and the fate of the interim government in doubt.

After the postponement of the vote, there was also a reported surge in violence in the country, including by armed groups seeking to control the country’s oil fields.

Earlier this week, the parliament said that no elections would be held this year, dismaying the many Libyans who had registered to vote. The parliament has also declared the Dbeibah government invalid and said it will hold a vote later in the day to name a new prime minister to form another government.

The parliament's move to choose a new prime minister may lead to a return to the situation before Dbeibah's unity government was installed, with parallel administrations seeking to rule Libya from different cities.

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