Libya’s parliament said on Thursday that it will meet next week to vote on approving a new temporary government, despite the fact that the existing administration has promised not to relinquish power.
A year after a unity government was established in Tripoli and two months after a scheduled election was canceled due to disagreements over the rules, the disagreement over how to proceed threatens to re-divide Libya.
Former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, who has been authorized by parliament to create the next administration, indicated on Thursday that he is ready to present a cabinet, and the chamber’s spokesperson confirmed a session would be conducted on Monday.
However, the current prime minister, Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, who took office through a U.N.-backed process, has said he will only hand over power after an election and this week said he was planning to hold a nationwide vote in the summer.
The parliament accuses Dbeibah of corruption and says his term expired on Dec. 24 when the election was meant to happen. Dbeibah denies this and says the parliament is itself no longer valid eight years after it was elected.
Though the parliament also says it plans a referendum on a new temporary constitution, and elections after that, few analysts expect a national vote any time soon.
The tussle between Libya’s rival political institutions now threatens to thrust the country back into conflict after the last major bout of fighting stopped in 2020.
Over recent weeks opposing armed factions have mobilized in the capital Tripoli and analysts say the political crisis could trigger clashes with potential knock-on effects across the country.
Libya has had little peace or security since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi and it split after the last national election in 2014 between warring administrations ruling in Tripoli and the east.
The parliament mostly sided in that conflict with eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar against the then internationally backed government in Tripoli, an administration that included Bashagha.
Eastern forces were supported by Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, while the Tripoli government was backed by Turkey. Both Russia and Turkey are believed to have kept forces in Libya.
It is not clear, however, whether any new conflict would take place along the same lines as the previous one, with Libyan political factions and armed groups having reconfigured their ties with past enemies and allies alike.