Bashaagha suspended from Cabinet, leaving GNA vulnerable and compromising peace negotiations
On 28 August, Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister and head of the Presidency Council (PC) Fayez al-Serraj announced that he was suspending Interior Minister Fathi Bashaagha and called for an investigation of Bashaagha’s handling of street protests. Serraj said the investigation of Bashaagha would occur within 72 hours; meanwhile, his duties would be assumed by a deputy minister, Khalid Mazen. Bashaagha responded in a statement by expressing readiness for an investigation but said it should be televised to ensure transparency.
This development should be viewed as an effective pushback by the status quo powers against economic, military and political reforms. These deepened divisions within the GNA now make any temporary ceasefire more difficult and will likely scuttle international peace mediation, as international and western political priorities will now need to re-focus on stabilising the western region’s political structures before moving to mediation with eastern Libya.
Serraj’s announcement of Bashaagha’s suspension coincided with a series of other appointments that we envision will effectively serve to placate major cities, including Misrata, Zawiyya and Zintan. However, even these delicate political gambits could backfire and reignite tensions between Misrata, Tripoli and Zintan, and potentially also inflame tensions among Tripoli’s armed groups. Furthermore, the LNA may try to seize this opportunity to justify an assault on Tripoli or Misrata, or – more likely – launch an overt media relations campaign criticising the integrity of the PC / GNA.