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Libya interim PM elected through bribery, UN inquiry says

Libya's Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh speaks on the latest state of government formation efforts during a press conference in Tripoli, Libya on 25 February 2021. [Hazem Turkia - Anadolu Agency]
Libya's Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh speaks on the latest state of government formation efforts during a press conference in Tripoli, Libya on 25 February 2021. [Hazem Turkia - Anadolu Agency]

Libya's interim prime minister was elected after bribing participants to vote in his favour, a UN inquiry seen by Agence France Presse (AFP) has found.

Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, 61, reportedly offered sums between $150,000 and $200,000 in order to attract the votes of at least three attendees.

One delegate heard that as much as $500,000 was on offer, the Guardianreported.

Dbeibeh's supporters offered the bribes to delegates at a hotel in Tunis during the latest round of UN-led Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) talks.

In a passage of the report seen by AFP, experts claimed delegates had rowed in the lobby of the hotel after discovering the bribe for their vote was lower than that offered to others.

A participant in the talks, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed the incident to AFP.

The interim prime minister's office has described the allegations as fake news and said the claims were intended to disrupt the fragile political process.

On Saturday, six female members of the forum issued a statement refuting the bribery claims and calling on the UN to release the full report in order to put an end to defamatory statements about them, the Guardian reported.

READ: Assassination attempt on Libya interior minister, MP says

The full report on the inquiry is set to be published on 15 March.

The investigation was ordered by Stephanie Williams, the then UN special envoy for Libya, after rumours of bribery at the dialogue forum circulated.

However, the Guardian reported the rumours of bribery have been common knowledge in Libya for two months and were rife at the time of the vote in early February.

It is not clear what that next step for the UN and the LPDF will be.

Dbeibeh, along with a three-member Presidential Council, was elected in Geneva on 5 February by a 75-strong group of delegates hand-picked by the UN.

His list beat out his rivals, who were seen as the likely winners, by 39 votes to 34.

The 61-year-old has promised to uphold plans for elections on 24 December this year and has agreed not to run in them himself.

He must now win a vote of confidence for his government from the Libyan parliament by 19 March.

READ: British premier congratulates new Libyan counterpart

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