News / Middle East

    Libyan Turmoil: 2 Assemblies, 2 Premiers

    Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz, second left, attends a Cairo gathering of foreign ministers of Libya's neighbors in Cairo, Aug. 25, 2014.
    Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz, second left, attends a Cairo gathering of foreign ministers of Libya's neighbors in Cairo, Aug. 25, 2014.
    Edward Yeranian

    Libya's political and military conflict heated up Monday after the Islamist coalition which controls the capital, Tripoli, appointed a new prime minister and declared the newly-elected parliament null and void.  The prime minister already in office, Abdullah al-Thani, responded by calling the Islamist forces in Tripoli “tyrants” and insisting they could not govern the country by force.  

    Libya's rival political forces threw down the gauntlet at each other Monday as their political and military feud intensified.

    Newly re-appointed Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani told journalists in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk that the Islamist Fajr militia, which captured the capital's airport on Saturday, is trying to “impose its will by force” and that its political moves are “illegal.”

    "I oppose anyone who tries to divide the country and the attempt by Nouri Bou Sahmein, speaker of the old General National Congress, to appoint a new government is null and void, since Bou Sahmein is now an ordinary citizen with no authority to appoint anyone," said al-Thani.

    Thani added that any meeting of the former assembly is illegitimate.  He said Libya's new parliament, elected in June, is the only body with the authority to appoint and that all Libyans should unite around it.

    Thani accused the Fajr militia of behaving in a “dictatorial manner” reminiscent of the late ousted strongman, Moammar Gadhafi. The government, he insisted, could “no longer operate in Tripoli” due to insecurity and he blasted Fajr militiamen for allegedly setting fire to his home and office.

    Earlier, pro-Islamist political leader Omar Hmaidan gave a press conference in Tripoli declaring the replacement of Thani.

    "Abdullah al-Thani has been removed from his positions as caretaker prime minister and defense minister and that Omar Suleiman Salah al-Hassi has been appointed to form a new national government in the next week, after taking the oath office before National Congress speaker Nouri Bou Sahmein," said Hmaidan.

    Bou Sahmein, an Islamist, has locked horns repeatedly with liberal political leaders including Libya's former prime minister Ali Zeidan.  Bou Sahmein led the move to oust Zeidan last March.

    Meanwhile, in Cairo, Libya's neighbors met to discuss the conflict and called for national dialogue to end Libya's violence.  Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri said the regional grouping had agreed to oppose any sort of outside intervention.

    "The parties had agreed to respect Libya's unity and sovereignty and to refuse any outside interference in the country's internal affairs, promoting national dialogue to solve the ongoing conflict and to put an immediate stop to all armed violence," said Shoukri.

    Libyan TV, which is now controlled by the Islamist forces in Tripoli, announced that outgoing army head Abdel Salam Jaballah al Obeidi, who was removed over the weekend by the Libyan parliament in Tobruk, would remain in office.

    The station also claimed that Libya's judiciary had agreed to the reinstatement of the old General National Congress, due to what the TV report called “the current political void.”  The GNC's official mandate expired last February.  The new parliament was elected in June and began to meet last month.

    Meanhwile, the U.S. State Department, along with Britain, France, Germany and Italy, issued a statement Monday saying actions by outsiders exacerbate divisions in Libya and undermine democracy.

    Those five allies strongly condemn fighting in such major cities as Tripoli and Benghazi, especially in residential areas, and urge all parties to accept a cease-fire and put together an inclusive government.

     

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora