Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and his Cabinet were to hold a meeting in Benghazi. AP Photo
CAIRO: Libya‘s interim prime minister called off his visit Monday to the country’s east after a government advance security team was turned back from the airport in the eastern city of Benghazi, officials said.
Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and his Cabinet were to hold a meeting in Benghazi, the main stronghold of Libya’s east-based forces loyal to military commander Khalifa Hifter.
Mohamed Hamuda, a government spokesman, said late Sunday that the Benghazi meeting was postponed. He did not give a reason but said they were working to set up another date for the meeting.
A government official in the capital, Tripoli, said the development came after authorities at the Benghazi airport turned back an armed entourage that was sent to secure Dbeibah’s visit.
An official with Hifter’s forces said the entourage had asked to take over the airport security during the prime minister’s visit, a demand rejected by airport officials. He said many government officials, including the head of the presidential council, had visited Benghazi and their trips were secured by forces already in the city.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
Dbeibah’s transitional government, appointed in February, replaced two rival administrations, one in the east and another in the west, each backed by an array of militias and different foreign powers.
Libya was plunged into chaos following a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 that toppled and later killed long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The transitional government’s main goal is to lead the conflict-wrecked country through elections in December.