Elections, Middle East, Top Stories

Ex-Interior Minister Bashagha turns to BGR for Libya election lobbying

Former Libyan interior minister turned presidential hopeful Fathi Bashagha has hired Washington lobbying firm the BGR Group after parting ways with Brownstein Hyatt under unclear circumstances earlier this summer.

The contract is for $50,000 per month for six months starting Aug. 23. BGR is expected to provide government affairs and PR services “to engage and facilitate communications with the media, relevant officials and decision-makers in the U.S.,” according to a new filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

“Bashagha is building support for elections in December as an important step in keeping Libya on track for a stable and prosperous future,” BGR told Foreign Lobby Report in an emailed statement. “BGR will help Mr. Bashagha make this case to government officials and the media in the U.S.”

A former fighter jet pilot originally from the northwestern city of Misrata, Bashagha lost a bid to serve as prime minister of the transitional Government of National Unity (GNU) earlier this year. He told Reuters he survived an assassination attempt in Tripoli in February.

Bashagha is seen as close to the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey. He was part of the Libya Dawn coalition of Islamist groups and conservative Misratan merchants that battled eastern commander Khalifa Haftar‘s forces for control of Tripoli in 2014 and helped push back Haftar’s subsequent assault on the capital when he was interior minister from October 2018 to March 2021.

“We’re honored to represent Minister Bashagha, a leading advocate of democratic elections in Libya,” BGR founding partner Ed Rogers said in an emailed statement. “Minister Bashagha is committed to a better future for Libya and we are eager to help secure U.S. support for the upcoming elections.”

Registered as foreign agents on the account are BGR public relations president Jeffrey Birnbaum (bio) and PR principal Jo Maney (bio) along with Maya Seiden (bio) and Lester Munson (bio), both principals in the firm’s international practice.

The BGR hire comes after Bashagha signed a $50,000-a-month contract with Brownstein Hyatt in late June that was almost immediately terminated. Neither side has offered an explanation but Brownstein represents the government of Egypt, which backed Haftar against the Libya Dawn forces. Former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), who chairs Brownstein’s international practice, had been registered to lobby for Bashagha along with veteran US diplomat Samantha Carl-Yoder and policy director Douglas Maguire.


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Bashagha’s lobbying comes as other Libyan actors are also eyeing a presidential run, including the son of the late dictator Muamar Gadhafi, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, and former Libyan ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Aref Ali Nayed, who is pushing for elections to be held in December as planned. The Africa Report reported over the weekend that the US State Department has proposed replacing elections scheduled for this December with a staggered vote that would end in September 2022 amid opposition to the current timeline from the transitional Government of National Unity in Tripoli.

“The US goal is a sovereign, stable, unified, and secure Libya with no foreign interference, and a democratically elected government that supports human rights and development, and that is capable of combating terrorism within its borders,” a State Department official told Foreign Lobby Report when asked for comment. “The target election date of December 24 is rapidly approaching. To avoid losing the progress made since the ceasefire, there is an urgent need for Libyan leaders to come up with creative compromises on an electoral framework.”