Rival Libyan PM arrives in Tripoli from east to seat Cabinet

CAIRO (AP) — The office of one of Libya’s rival prime ministers said he arrived in the country’s capital of Tripoli on Tuesday with the expectation to seat his government — three months since his appointment to lead an interim administration in the crisis-stricken nation.

The development is likely to fuel more tensions between Libya’s rival administrations. Local media reported that clashes erupted Tuesday between different militias and rival forces supporting the two sides in central Tripoli and elsewhere in the city.

Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha’s office said he arrived with a number of ministers from his Cabinet. It did not provide further details. There was no immediate comment from the government of embattled Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who is based in Tripoli.

Bashagha was named prime minister by the country’s east-based parliament in February. But Dbeibah has refused to step down, insisting he will hand over power only to an elected government.

Over the weekend, rival militias clashed in Tripoli’s neighborhood of Janzour. No casualties were reported but local authorities said there was damage to infrastructure, including a power plant.

The U.N. mission in Libya has condemned the clashes, which involved “indiscriminate fire and the alleged use of heavy weapons” in the densely populated neighborhood.

Lawmakers have argued that Dbeibah’s mandate expired after Libya failed to hold presidential elections in December as planned under a U.N.-brokered agreement.

The failure to hold the vote was a major blow to international efforts to end decade of chaos in Libya. It opened a new chapter in Libya’s long-running political impasse, with rival governments claiming power after tentative steps toward unity in the past year.

The oil-rich country has been wrecked by conflict since the NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Libya has since for years been split between rival administrations in the east and west, each supported by different militias and foreign governments.

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