Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, Libyaâ€™s new prime minister, was sworn in on Monday ahead of United Nations-sponsored elections set for December that aim to reunite the war-wracked country a decade after the overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Dbeibah, a prominent Mistratan businessman, was sworn in in Tobruk on Monday after having been selected as prime minister at UN-backed talks in February. His government was approved by a wide margin last month and will retain power until national elections on Dec. 24.
His administration is expected to supersede war-torn Libyaâ€™s two rival governments: the UN-backed administration in Tripoli, and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, which is aligned with retired Libyan generalÂ Khalifa Hifter.
The outgoing prime minister of western Libyaâ€™s UN-backed government, Fayez al-Serraj, has fully endorsed Dbeibahâ€™s premiership, saying he is ready to hand over authority. Meanwhile, Hifter offered the â€œsupport of the armed forcesâ€ for the international peace process, Agence France-PresseÂ quoted him as saying.
After seizing control of most of Libyaâ€™s east and oil-rich south, Hifter launched a failed offensive against Tripoli in 2019. That gambit drew Turkey and Russia deeper into the conflict, with Ankara sending soldiers and Syrian mercenaries to back the UN-recognized Tripoli government, and Russia sending Wagner mercenaries and Syrians to back Hifter.
The stalling of Hifterâ€™s offensive last year was seized upon by diplomats from the UN and United States, who sought to bridge the divide to halt further conflict and entrenchment of foreign military forces.
Dbeibahâ€™s government will face significant hurdles in the coming months. Oil-rich Libyaâ€™s economy is in tatters after a decade of civil war. Though oil production has restarted since a blockade by Hifter last year, there is yet no firm agreement on how to share petroleum revenues between the two governments.
The former business magnate has vowed to combat corruption but has yet to offer a plan to meet the many daunting political and economic challenges the country faces.
His government also will have to reckon with the presence of some 20,000 foreign fighters in Libya. The foreign mercenaries could give Russia, the United Arab Emirates and rival Turkey competing leverage over Dbeibahâ€™s attempts at reform.
A UN-backed deadline for all foreign troops to leave the country came and went in January.