Libyan MP criticises new PM for accepting Turkish presence in Libya

A member of Libya’s House of Representatives (HoR) voiced his skepticism of newly named interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeiba for his acceptance of Turkey’s military presence in the country, online daily Libya Review reported on Sunday. 

On Friday, the Head of the Defence and National Security Committee of the HoR, Talal al-Mayhoub, called on his colleagues to carefully consider whether or not they issue a vote of confidence to Dbeiba. 

“At a time when our people were looking forward to the speech of the national unity government by announcing the proposed government and hoping to complete the nation’s sovereignty and prestige and improve services,” al-Mayhoub said, “we were surprised by the Prime Minister’s acceptance of the agreements concluded with the Turkish side, and their acceptance of their presence on the land of the country.’’

He urged the HoR’s MPs to wait for Dbeiba to make clear his views on a series of agreements the United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli concluded with Turkey under current Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

The deals in question are the maritime pact signed by Sarraj and Erdogan in November 2019 that established a maritime border between Libya and Turkey, and the the defence pact that Sarraj invoked to obtain military support aganst the advance of General Khalifa Haftar, leader of the HoR’s Libyan National Army (LNA). 

The HoR, where al-Mayhoub is a member, is the seat of power for the government in eastern Libya based out of Tobruk which has opposed Turkey’s intervention. 

On Feb. 5, it was announced that new elections in Libya would take place in Dec. 2021. In the meantime, the country would be led by an interim government with a caretaker president and prime minister.

Dbeiba, a businessman from pro-Turkish Misrata, was selected to serve as interim prime minister despite being a political unknown. 

Last Thursday, Dbeiba said that ties with Turkey would remain strong under his government. 

“Our ties with Turkey will be distinguished. It is our economic partner and we support this partnership,” Dbeiba told a news conference in Tripoli.

Dbeiba was formerly head of the Libyan Investment and Development Company under Muammar al-Gadhafi and headed the al-Itthiad football club. He also founded his own political party called the Libya al-Mustakbal (Libya Future) Movement last year. 

A businessman from the construction sector in Misrata, Dbeiba and members of his family have been connected to corruption investigations from the Gadhafi era. Paris-based Africa Intelligence reported on Friday that Dbeiba and the mayor of Misrata lent assistance to  Turkish construction company Karanfil for opening a concrete production plant. It is reportedly the largest in North Africa and cost $10 million

Dbeiba’s cousin has been reported to have ties to both Turkey and Qatar, the GNA’s other major ally, according to the independent Egyptian outlet Mada Masr. His cousin was reported to have formed connections with Libyan Islamists residing in Turkey. to form the Peace and Reconciliaton Forum in 2018.

The new interim Libyan government is expected to form a cabinet for approval in the coming weeks. It will require a vote of confidence from leaders in Tripoli as well as Tobruk.