Tripoli calm, Libya riven after worst fighting in years

Date:

  • Workers clear debris after rivals clashed
  • Street fighting raged in Tripoli on Saturday
  • Elections, already postponed, now seem further away
  • Oil-producing Libya ravaged by violence since 2011

TRIPOLI, Aug. 28 (Reuters) – Charred cars and buildings full of bullets scarred the Libyan capital on Sunday, the day after fierce fighting killed 32 people, but Tripoli’s government appeared even more firmly entrenched.

Fighting raged in the city all Saturday as forces affiliated with the parliament-backed government of Fathi Bashagha failed to take control of the capital and overthrow the Tripoli-based government of Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah. drive out.

While touring the city on Sunday, Reuters saw workers clearing glass and debris from streets littered with used ammunition shells, while fighters aligned with Dbeibah stood in front of bases seized by troops affiliated with Bashagha.

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Traffic returned to many roads as residents inspected damage to their properties.

The clashes broke out and ended suddenly. But the brief nature of the flare-up has not allayed fears of greater conflict between rivals after months of stalemate in a country that has endured more than a decade of chaos and violence.

Libya has seen little peace since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted longtime autocrat Muammar Gaddafi, divided the nation in 2014 between rival eastern and western factions and dragged in regional powers. Libyan oil production, a prize for the warring groups, has been halted repeatedly.

Bashagha’s prospects of seizing control in Tripoli, which lies in western Libya, appear to be bleak for now, but there is no sign of wider political or diplomatic compromise to end the struggle for power in Libya. read more

The powerful eastern faction that backed Bashagha, including parliament speaker Aguila Saleh and commander Khalifa Haftar with his Libyan National Army, have given little indication that they are ready to reach an agreement with Dbeibah.

Saleh’s parliament, based in eastern Libya, said Dbeibah’s government had exceeded its term and appointed Bashagha to replace him early this year after the collapse of a political process in preparation for the elections. Dbeibah disputed this.

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“Dbeibah now looks sturdier and more durable than it did 48 hours ago,” analyst Jalel Harchaoui said. “Haftar and Aguila Saleh have to decide whether they can live with a configuration where they have almost no control over Tripoli.”

He said there could be backroom negotiations between key players and their foreign backers. But the rivals could also try to build new military coalitions capable of expanding their areas of control, he said.

National elections, scheduled for last year as part of a UN-sponsored peace process, were canceled due to disagreements over voting rules. They seem even further away now.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an immediate end to the violence and for dialogue to break the deadlock.

Several groups that joined Bashagha in Tripoli appeared to have lost control of the territory in the capital on Saturday. Attempts by other forces aligned with him and trying to enter the capital from the west and south seemed to falter.

A major military convoy departing from Misrata, east of Tripoli, where Bashagha has been based for weeks, returned before reaching the capital.

A leading pro-Bashagha commander Osama Juweili said Saturday’s fighting was caused by friction between the armed forces in Tripoli. But he told Al-Ahrar TV that “it is not a crime” to try to bring in a government mandated by parliament.

Airlines said on Sunday that flights were operating normally at Mitiga Airport in Tripoli, a sign that safety had been restored for the time being.

The health ministry said on Sunday that 32 people were killed in Saturday’s violence and 159 were injured, without saying how many fighters and how many civilians.

Firefighters were still working on extinguishing a fire in an apartment building in Tripoli on Sunday morning. A man standing among the residents nearby said, “Who will compensate them? And who will bring the dead back to life?”

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Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Additional reporting by Ayman al-Warfali; Written by Angus McDowall; Editing by Susan Fenton and Edmund Blair

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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