Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah escaped an assassination attempt Thursday, amid conflicts between rival factions over control of the government.
The prime minister was unharmed in the incident, Reuters reported, citing a source close to the prime minister who said it was a clear assassination attempt.
According to the unnamed source, while returning home early on Thursday, shots were fired toward Dbeibah’s vehicle from another vehicle that managed to flee the scene.
The incident has been referred to the prosecutor general for investigation.
If confirmed, the failed assassination attempt would further aggravate a deeply divided nation.
On Tuesday, Dbeibah took a defiant stand against efforts to appoint a new interim government, saying he would not hand over power.
“I will not allow a new transitional period,” he said. “The Government of National Unity will continue until handing over power to an elected administration.”
He warned that naming a new primer minister will lead the country back to “division and chaos” after nearly two years of relative calm. He called for street protests to denounce the appointment of a new transitional government.
“We will not allow this class that has been dominant for years to monopolize the scene,” he said, accusing the political class that controlled Libya for the past decade of seeking to remain in power.
The House of Representatives was scheduled to convene Thursday to name either former interior minister Fathi Bashaga or Minister-Counsellor Khalid al-Baibas as the new prime minister, though it is unclear whether the assassination attempt on Dbeibah’s life will postpone the decision.
The effort to replace Dbeibah stems from Libya’s failure to hold its first presidential election during his watch. It has been a major blow to international efforts to end a decade of chaos in the oil-rich Mediterranean nation.
Dbeibah, a powerful businessman from Misrata, was appointed prime minister in February last year as part of a UN-brokered, Western-backed political process. His government’s main task was to steer the deeply divided country toward national reconciliation and lead it through elections.
The appointment of a new prime minister will likely produce two parallel administrations. This increases the possibility of renewed fighting in a country largely ruled by lawless militias and armed groups with conflicting interests.
Libya has been wrecked by conflict since the NATO-backed uprising toppled then killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The country was for years split between rival administrations in the east and west, each supported by militias and foreign governments.