After Stumbling in Tunisia, Fathi Bashagha Seeks Support in Paris – Al Marsad

The Interior Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fathi Bashagha arrived  in the French capital, Paris, on an official visit, which according to several sources will include side meetings, before the new virtual round of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) scheduled on 23 November.

(Libya, 18 November 2020) – A source close to Fathi Bashagha said the “visit is official for security coordination, exchanging information, and discussing the political situation as well.”

On 15 November, Bashagha failed to secure for himself the post of Prime Minister of the new Government of National Accord (GNA), which did not see the light of day after five days of continuous talks in Tunisia. Bashagha has been seeking this position since Operation Libya Dawn in 2014, when Misratan militias invaded Tripoli, and which he masterminded.

Another diplomatic source revealed to Al-Marsad that Bashagha will request French support and pressure for his candidacy, but this request will not find its way to the Elysée unless her abandons his “blind loyalty” to Turkey and the “illegal” agreements concluded with it, as the source put it.

The same source pointed out that “the narrative that Bashagha will give to those who would express dissatisfaction with his visit to France, and to Egypt recently, would be that he is seeking to attract countries supporting Filed Marshal Khalifa Haftar towards the GNA’s camp.” The source said this was a “questionable narrative in light of the growth of his political ambitions in partnership with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is what the armed groups in Tripoli understand very well.”

Relations between Paris and Ankara are the worst in years due to Turkey’s continuing exploration operations outside its waters in the eastern Mediterranean, harassing the interests of France and its European allies which consider Erdogan’s practices as “thievery and piracy.”

France demands the evacuation of all mercenaries and foreign forces, notably Turkish forces, from Libya in accordance with the Geneva Military Agreement (5+5). It also considers the Memorandums of Understanding signed between Fayez al-Sarraj and Erdogan last November as illegal, something that Bashagha must come to terms with while begging for support from Paris.

French diplomacy has been active in recent days in the Mediterranean region, where the foreign and interior ministers of France visited Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt in what seems to be an effort to break the tension that prevailed after the issue of the “offensive cartoons” before Bashagha’s visit to Paris. This is especially after the demonstrations in the western parts of Libya with some of the crowd holding pictures of “Hitler” to spite France and for which the GNA’s Interior Ministry led by Bashagha provided protection and support.

Bashagha enjoys the support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Justice and Construction Party (JCP) during the LPDF’s rounds. A leaked audio recording of Said Saleh Kula, a member of the group in the LPDF exposed him as mobilizing votes for Bashagha using the carrot and stick approach.

This comes after a huge uproar in the last two days of the LPDF round on corrupt money finding its way to the LPDF to mobilize votes and bribe members, as the name of Dbaiba emerged.

Eljarh: Two LPDF Members Received Offers to Vote for Dbaiba for US$200,000

There were additionally also claims by members that they received “veiled threats” from Bashagha if they did not vote for him, including blackmailing to involve them in corruption cases.

© Al-Marsad English (2020)


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