Tripoli’s offices were surrounded by heavily armed militiamen, who threatened to cancel the forthcoming presidential election. The UN regards the vote as crucial to peace in this divided African nation.
Images and videos of Tripoli from Wednesday’s early hours showed fighting between armed people and military vehicles.
After the Presidential Council fired the Tripoli Military District head, this photo shows technicals outside of the Office of the Prime Minister. pic.twitter.com/dz7FRIUJc2
— Kyle Glen (@KyleJGlen) December 15, 2021
This was after Dbeibah fired Abdel Baset Marwan, commander of Tripoli’s military district.
According to the Italian daily La Repubblica, two other militia leaders – Abdel Ghani al-Kikli of the Ghneiwa and Mustafa Ibrahim Gaddur of the Nawasi – went to al Menfi’s palace to protest the decision.
Al-Arabiya reported that Al-Samoud Brigade another militia has said that Tripoli’s government institutions are closed. They also announced there would be no presidential elections. US and UN sanction Salah Badi (leader of Al-Samoud) for his opposition to the UN-backed Government of National Accord.
Already, the controversy surrounding December 24’s vote has been a problem. Dbeibeh, who reportedly said that he wouldn’t run for president to become PM in exchange, hasn’t resigned from the position in the lead-up to election as required by rules.
General Khalifa Haftar, who commands the rival Libyan National Army in Tobruk, has been accused of being a US citizen and therefore ineligible – which he denied. The electoral commission tried to disqualify Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, but the decision was reversed later.
Saif’s father Muammar Gaddafi led Libya for over 40 years, before he was overthrown and murdered during a 2011 insurrection backed by NATO powers. That triggered a civil war which has continued ever since. UN envoy for Libya Ján Kubiš had warned in September that failure to hold the election would reignite the conflict, but has since resigned without explanation, staying in the post until a replacement can be appointed.