Head of Libya’s government of stability, Fathi Bashagha announced that he would remain in his position until “all Libyan parties” agree on electoral laws, which are welcomed by the international community, and until they set dates for the presidential and parliamentary elections.
“Only then will I decide,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview.
On whether he will run for president, he said he will make up his mind after the laws and regulations related to the polls are approved.
He hoped that the international community would take more steps in supporting the initiative of United Nations envoy Abdoulaye Bathily that aims for the elections to be held this year.
Bashagha dismissed claims that he has low chances of being elected president due to his government’s failure in entering the capital Tripoli to perform its duties.
“I have great popularity, whether I succeeded in entering Tripoli or not,” he stressed.
“Everyone knows that my project calls for the establishment of the state and this has prevented others from remaining in their posts for as long as possible and led to more calls for the elections to be held,” he remarked.
Commenting on his relations with Türkiye and reports that it had supplied his rival, head of the Government of National Unity (GNU) Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, with drones to thwart his entry into Tripoli, Bashagha said: “Every phase has its circumstances and conditions. My relations with Ankara have been and continue to be excellent.”
Moreover, he praised the relations he enjoys with parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh. “Some believe that these ties are strained, but that is not true,” he added.
On reports that Libyan parties want to keep Seif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, the son of late ruler Moammar, from running in the presidential elections, Bashagha said the issue is always brought up when talks are held over dropping the candidacy of figures who have judicial rulings against them.
Seif al-Islam is instantly the target of such discussions, he noted, saying that such a judicial condition is part of electoral laws in several countries.
Turning to armed groups in Libya, he said the issue is “not impossible to resolve”.
“With enough international support and political will, the problem can be overcome,” he added.
Furthermore, he said that when he served as interior minister, he had come up with a training and rehabilitation program for the fighters. Several of them have already been recruited and others have graduated as officers.
The program, however, came to a halt after his term as minister ended.
In addition, he warned of the spread of illegal weapons in Libya. This makes the country a safe haven for extremists.
Terrorist cells are already present in the South, he noted. They may expand their activities if they receive the necessary funding, he warned.
These cells are involved in drug smuggling and human trafficking.
He underscored the importance of forming a southern border force that could address the security situation there.
However, the security institutions would continue to be weak in the absence of a united government and the continued divisions, he lamented.
Asked about the international efforts to support the UN initiative on Libya, Bashagha called for employing “any efforts to help resolve the crisis.”
He acknowledged that the United States and Europe are keen on the withdrawal of Russia’s Wagner group from Libya.
“That is not their only concern,” he remarked.
“The stability of Libya is their priority as it is for neighboring countries, like Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Sudan, and the rest of Africa,” he stressed.
“Everyone knows that the longer the crisis in Libya goes on, the more likely it is to impact Africa,” he warned.