Clashes erupt in Tripoli as rival Libyan PM arrives

CAIRO (AP) — Clashes erupted Tuesday between rival militias in the Libyan capital of Tripoli after the arrival of one of the country’s rival prime ministers in hopes of entrenching his government.

Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha’s office said in a terse statement that he had arrived in Tripoli with a number of ministers from his cabinet – three months after he was appointed to head an interim administration in the troubled country. The statement did not provide further details.

There was no immediate comment from beleaguered Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah’s government, which is based in Tripoli.

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

“We arrived in the capital peacefully and safely. The reception has been excellent,” Bashagha said in video comments, adding that his government was ready to work with all Libyans, including those who oppose him. He made no reference to the clashes.

UN Special Adviser on Libya Stephanie Williams called for calm and appealed to rival sides to refrain from taking part in the clashes.

“Conflicts cannot be resolved through violence, but through dialogue and mediation,” she tweeted, adding that the United Nations stands ready to welcome all parties “to help Libya find a genuine and consensus towards stability and elections”.

Bashagha, a former interior minister, was named prime minister by the country’s east-based parliament in February. But Dbeibah, a wealthy businessman, refused to step down, insisting he would hand over power only to an elected government. Both prime ministers hail from the powerful western city of Misrata.

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