Libyan government calls for end to Tripoli clashes

One of Libya’s rival governments on Friday urged militias to stop fighting after clashes broke out overnight in the country’s capital Tripoli, killing at least one civilian and forcing around 200 people to flee the area.

The Tripoli-based Libyan Presidential Council said in an early morning statement that all forces involved must return to their bases immediately.

It was the latest violence to threaten relative peace after nearly a decade of civil war, and it comes as Libya is in a political stalemate between two rival sets of authorities. The divisions have sparked several incidents of violence in Tripoli in recent months.

Malek Merset, a spokesman for Tripoli’s emergency services, said at least one civilian had died as a result of the clashes. He said about 200 people were evacuated down a corridor that the emergency service set up in the early hours of Friday. He asked for calm so that more people could leave.

The cause of the fighting that began on Thursday was unclear. Videos shared on social media showed local militia forces mobilizing and heavy fire being exchanged across the night sky.

Libya has for years been divided between rival administrations in the east and west, each supported by several well-armed militias and foreign governments. The Mediterranean nation has been in a state of turmoil since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled and then killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The country’s plan to transition to an elected government failed after a Tripoli-based interim government headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah failed to hold elections last year. Dbeibah was supposed to share executive power with the Presidential Council in Tripoli until an elected government could take over. The delay stalled UN-led attempts to usher in a more democratic future and end the country’s war.

Dbeibah has since refused to step down, raising questions about his tenure.

In response, eastern lawmakers elected a rival prime minister, Fathy Bashagha, a powerful former interior minister who now operates a separate administration outside the city of Sirte. An attempt in May by Basghagha to install his government in Tripoli also ended in clashes that killed one, after which he withdrew.

One of Libya’s rival governments on Friday urged militias to stop fighting after clashes broke out overnight in the country’s capital Tripoli, killing at least one civilian and forcing around 200 people to flee the area.

The Tripoli-based Libyan Presidential Council said in an early morning statement that all forces involved must return to their bases immediately.

It was the latest violence to threaten relative peace after nearly a decade of civil war, and it comes as Libya is in a political stalemate between two rival sets of authorities. The divisions have sparked several incidents of violence in Tripoli in recent months.

Malek Merset, a spokesman for Tripoli’s emergency services, said at least one civilian had died as a result of the clashes. He said about 200 people were evacuated down a corridor that the emergency service set up in the early hours of Friday. He asked for calm so that more people could leave.

The cause of the fighting that began on Thursday was unclear. Videos shared on social media showed local militia forces mobilizing and heavy fire being exchanged across the night sky.

Libya has for years been divided between rival administrations in the east and west, each supported by several well-armed militias and foreign governments. The Mediterranean nation has been in a state of turmoil since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled and then killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The country’s plan to transition to an elected government failed after a Tripoli-based interim government headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah failed to hold elections last year. Dbeibah was supposed to share executive power with the Presidential Council in Tripoli until an elected government could take over. The delay stalled UN-led attempts to usher in a more democratic future and end the country’s war.

Dbeibah has since refused to step down, raising questions about his tenure.

In response, eastern lawmakers elected a rival prime minister, Fathy Bashagha, a powerful former interior minister who now operates a separate administration outside the city of Sirte. An attempt in May by Basghagha to install his government in Tripoli also ended in clashes that killed one, after which he withdrew.

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