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Libya’s parliament-elected prime minister plans to set up his new government in the central city of Sirte on Wednesday after being forced to flee the capital, threatening to again fracture the country between two rival administrations.

Fathi Bashagha announced his plan late Tuesday following a day of chaos that saw clashes in Tripoli between militias loyal to him and others who back Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, named prime minister in 2021 after a United Nations-backed deal ended years of conflict between opposing governments in the North African OPEC member. 

Dbeibah says his mandate remains valid until elections, scheduled for last December but delayed amid legal disputes, are held. Bashagha’s move, however, signals an intensifying battle for power. 

Libya Risks Fracturing Anew as Parliament Picks Own Premier 

A rival government in Sirte would be a throwback to the pre-peace deal situation in Libya where rival administrations in the east and west battled for control. That fight and ensuing political and security chaos battered the nation’s economy, at times halting vital crude oil exports that serve as the nation’s almost sole source of foreign revenue. 

The UN, which had helped broker a peace agreement that ended the nearly decade-long conflict, has urged restraint -- calls echoed by the US and regional stakeholders like Egypt. 

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