Libya’s eastern-based parliament Thursday unanimously named a new interim prime minister, with the incumbent refusing to step aside.
A spokesman for the parliament said over 140 MPs in attendance had chosen former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha by acclamation after the only other candidate withdrew.
This will be a direct challenge to Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah’s administration and spark a new power struggle in the country where rival factions have been vying for control after the collapse of an election that was planned for December.
According to the parliament, Dbeibah’s interim government is no longer valid and will not push for any new election until next year.
Dbeibah who was chosen as prime minister last year in a UN-backed process and heads the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNU) vowed to stay on until the vote takes place.
The U.N. Libya adviser and Western countries have said Dbeibah’s Government of National Unity remains valid and have urged the parliament to focus instead on bringing elections forward.
The delayed election is a key part of a UN-backed political roadmap aimed at ending years of violence and instability.
Bashagha is expected to travel from the parliament’s seat in the eastern city of Tobruk to Tripoli later on Thursday. He had been given 10 days to name a cabinet and present it to the parliament for a vote of confidence.
Earlier on Thursday, Dbeibah escaped an apparent assassination attempt when his car was hit by several bullets in Tripoli. But there was no official or public statement to confirm that.