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UNSMIL expresses concern over new tensions in Libya

A new episode of confrontation erupted when Tripoli accused Fathi Bashaga of stealing 3.4 million euros
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AFP/MAHMUD TURKIA  -   Militias in Martyrs' Square in central Tripoli, Libya

The UN Special Mission to Libya (UNSMIL) on Tuesday expressed concern over threats to resort to force in an attempt by the two parallel governments to claim legitimacy and urged immediate de-escalation, saying they will not gain recognition from the international community.

"The current political stalemate and all aspects of the crisis affecting Libya cannot be resolved through armed confrontation. These problems can only be resolved by the Libyan people exercising their right to choose their leaders and the renewal of the legitimacy of state institutions through democratic elections," the body said in a statement.

UNSMIL pledged to continue working together with the country's institutions and all the actors involved to "get back on track" the electoral process "as soon as possible", after it was suspended sine die last December.

The Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNU) on Monday accused the parallel prime minister, Fathi Bashaga, of the "illegal appropriation" of 3.4 million euros that were allegedly transferred to the accounts of Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who controls the east of the country and oversees the parliament that appointed him.

Libya has been embroiled in a new power struggle since the appointment in February of Bashaga as chief executive, in opposition to the UN-backed GUN's Abdulhamid Dbeiba in February 2021, and has tried unsuccessfully to assert his power by attempting to enter the capital, leading to clashes between militias.

Dbeiba has continued to serve as prime minister while Bashaga established his government in Sirte, in the coastal centre of the country, and has been in contact with international diplomats but has so far not been officially recognised.

UNSMIL insists on holding elections to break Libya out of the new political deadlock and legitimise a central executive in a country with successive power struggles and two civil wars since the 2011 revolution that toppled Muammar Gaddafi's regime.