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Libya's Supreme Court Declares PM's Election Illegal

  • Edward Yeranian

Libya's new Prime Minister Ahmed Maitiq speaks at a news conference with members of the government in Tripoli, Libya, June 2, 2014.

Libya's new Prime Minister Ahmed Maitiq speaks at a news conference with members of the government in Tripoli, Libya, June 2, 2014.

Libya's Supreme Court says one of the country's two rival prime ministers, Ahmed Maitiq, was named "illegally," due to the absence of a quorum during the vote. In the country without a permanent constitution and a disputed parliament, the decision appears to leave caretaker Prime Minister Abdallah Thani in charge. But, Thani says no final decision will be made until Monday.

The Supreme Court decision declaring Ahmed Maitiq's election null and void added fresh confusion to an already unsettled political arena. “The election of Ahmed Maitiq,” the court insisted, “took place without a majority of votes and his appointment was unconstitutional.”

Two sessions of Libya's interim parliament were held last month to elect a successor to caretaker prime minister Abdallah Thani, who resigned after an attack on his home. Maitiq won the first ballot with 123 votes and the second with 83. Opponents insisted that a quorum was not present either time.

Al-Arabiya TV reported that Thani and his acting government left the capital for the town of Bayda, in the east of the country, due to threats from militia groups which support Maitiq. Thani told journalists that a final court ruling on who is prime minister would take place on June 9.

He said that the legality of the new government will be decided on Monday (June 9) and the process of transferring power to Maitiq will take place if the court rules in his favor.

Maitiq, backed by the Central Shield militia from his hometown of Misrata, reportedly occupied the prime minister's residence Tuesday, amid opposition from other groups. Both the militia and Maitiq reportedly belong to the Muslim Brotherhood, which opponents claim is trying to seize power in Libya.

At the same time, former Libyan Army chief of staff General Khalifa Haftar continues to wage a battle against Islamist militias in different parts of the country. A suicide-bomber from one of those Islamist militias blew himself up outside Haftar's headquarters in Benghazi Wednesday, slightly wounding the general.

Following the attack, Haftar went on TV to say that he had a mandate from the people to rid the country of lawless militias, which he said are made up of unruly young people.

He said that his forces represent the Libyan national army and are composed of men who are loyal to the entire nation and not just to their own region.

U.N. envoy Tareq Mitri, who was reportedly roughed up by militiamen upon arrival in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, Wednesday, told journalists that the international community is worried about instability in Libya, but that it is up to Libyans themselves to solve their own problems:

He said that the solution to the Libyan crisis is an internal matter and that the country should not be a battleground for foreign forces. Seven countries, he notes, have sent envoys to deal with the crisis since it affects the stability of the region. But, he argued, the international community can't help Libya if Libyans don't help themselves.

Former prime minister Ali Zeidan, who was deposed in a disputed no-confidence vote in April, told Libyan TV that “getting rid of armed militia groups is a national duty... in order to put an end to terrorism and violence.”

He stopped short, however, of supporting General Haftar, but said he supported the goals of his mission.
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