Libya Pm-designate defends vote marred by graft claims
Dbeibah’s office said he was ‘monitoring atempts to undermine the process of forming a government and obstruct process of approving it, by spreading rumours and false reports’
Libya’s interim prime minister-designate defended the process that saw him elected, following reports of vote-buying during the Un-led peace talks.
Abdul Hamid Dbeibah was elected last month during the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), the United Nations’ latest bid to salvage the country from a decade of conflict and fragmentation.
But UN experts wrote in report seen and not yet made public, that at least three participants were given hundreds of thousands of dollars each in bribes to vote for Dbeibah.
On Monday, Dbeibah’s office said he was “monitoring atempts to undermine the process of forming a government and obstruct the process of approving it, by spreading rumours and false reports.”
The statement confirmed the “integrity of the process through which the new authority was selected, in full transparency, as witnessed by Libyans.”
“We assure the Libyan people that the first stage of the roadmap will soon be completed” with a confidence vote in parliament to approve the government, Dbeibah said. The UN launched the LPDF in November, aiming to establish a unified executive in a country governed by rival eastern and western administrations backed by an array of armed groups and foreign powers.
But the initial talks in Tunisia were marred by allegations of vote-buying.
In the report set to be presented to the Security Council in March, UN experts found that during the Tunisia talks, two participants “offered bribes of between $150,000 to $200,000 to at least three LPDF participants if they commited to vote for Dbeibah as PM.”
In a passage of the report, the experts say that one delegate “erupted in anger in lobby of the Four Seasons hotel in Tunis on hearing that some participants may have received up to... $500,000 for their Dbeibah votes, whereas he had only received $200,000.”
The report was prepared by UN experts tasked with examining breaches of an international arms embargo on the North African nation.
Dbeibah, a billionaire from the western city of Misrata, has not yet named his cabinet and must win a vote of confidence from the Libyan parliament by March 19.
But the speaker of parliament has said the legislature will convene on March 8 to discuss the vote of confidence.
Meanwhile, one of the main suspects in the murder in Libya of 30 mostly Bangladeshi migrants last year was arrested on Monday, authorities in Tripoli said.
In May 2020, the family of a human trafficker killed by migrants for unknown reasons allegedly avenged his death by killing 26 Bangladeshis and four migrants of African origin.
The massacre took place in May in the city of Mezdah, more than 150 kilometres south of Libya’s capital. Eleven other migrants were wounded.
One of the alleged killers, 23, was arrested Monday in Gharyan, around 100 kilometres southwest of the capital, the unity government’s interior ministry said in a statement.
Wanted by the authorities, “he confessed his crime” under questioning, the ministry said, without revealing his identity.
“Just ater the tragic atack of May 2020, I ordered the local authorities in Mezdah to issue arrest warrants against those responsible for the murders,” Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha said.
“The arrest of the main suspect is a major victory,” he said, calling it “proof” that such crimes could not be commited with impunity in Libya.
The affair had caused outrage in Bangladesh, which demanded Libyan authorities investigate the murders, bring the perpetrators to account and compensate relatives.
A Bangladeshi accused of heading a trafficking ring with “links to international traffickers implicated in this incident” was arrested in the Asian nation’s capital Dhaka in June last year.
The episode highlighted the trafficking of young people from Bangladesh, via Libya and onwards on death-defying boat journeys towards Europe.
Tens of thousands of Bangladeshis have attempted to cross the Mediterranean in recent years, giving Libyan smugglers a large market for extortion.