Libyan PM pushes summer election amid parliament bid to oust him

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 November 21, 2021. REUTERS/Hazem Ahmed/File Photo

TRIPOLI, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Libya's interim prime minister on Monday announced a plan for elections in the summer as he seeks to stay in office despite a push by parliament to dislodge him in favour of a new government.

Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, who heads the Government of National Unity (GNU) in the west of the country, repeated his vow to step down only after a national vote, defying the eastern-based parliament's designation of former interior minister Fathi Bashagha to replace him as prime minister.

Dbeibah also said the GNU would hold a parliamentary election followed by a presidential election in June as he attempts to slow the momentum of a bid spearheaded by parliament to replace him.

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"(Parliament's) reckless course threatens to return us to division and will inevitably lead to war again," he said.

Many Libyans fear the dispute will bring back the years of divided government before Dbeibah was installed a year ago, when warring administrations ruled in east and west.

As the political problems have intensified in recent weeks, rival armed forces have mobilised in the capital, heightening fears of clashes.

The political chaos in Libya has undermined an internationally backed peace plan aimed at ending the violence and division since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against former President Muammar Gaddafi.

That plan was meant to culminate in parliamentary and presidential elections in December, but the process fell apart soon before the scheduled vote as rival factions squabbled over the rules and how to enforce them.

The parliament said Dbeibah's term had expired with the December election date and it has moved to establish a new interim government to oversee a referendum on a temporary constitution and new elections within 14 months.

Dbeibah says the parliament itself is no longer valid some eight years after it was elected and that its longer schedule for elections is aimed at prolonging its own position of power.

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Reporting by Ayman al-Warfali in Benghazi and Reuters Libya Newsroom in Tripoli, writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Aurora Ellis

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