Libya's parliament has ousted the nation's prime minister in a no-confidence vote after a North Korean-flagged tanker that illegally loaded crude oil at a rebel-held eastern port reportedly reached international waters.
Angry deputies in the General National Congress (GNC), Libya's highest political authority, Tuesday named the country's defense minister, Abdullah al-Thani, as interim prime minister until a replacement for Ali Zeidan is found.
The move was prompted by news that the tanker - Morning Glory - had taken advantage of poor weather conditions to escape naval ships escorting it to a government port and head for open sea.
There was no immediate reaction from Mr. Zeidan on his ouster. Most politicians in Libya are backed by militias with regional or ideological allegiances, and many are not likely to accept his removal.
GNC members said the tanker had evaded its naval escort.
A spokesman for the rebel militia that sparked the crisis by loading the oil without government permission at As-Sidra port also said the tanker had reached international waters. Essam Jehani said he would post a video of the ship leaving port.
In addition, Libya's state-run al-Waha Oil Company, operating the As-Sidra terminal, said the vessel had safely left port.
Top officials, including Mr. Zeidan, said late Monday the navy had seized the ship.
Although Morning Glory is North Korea-flagged, Libyan officials say it is owned by a Saudi company.
The vessel obtained the oil from militia groups that have blockaded several Libyan ports for more than six months, demanding more autonomy and oil revenues for the eastern regions of the country.
The blockade has caused a sharp drop in Libya's oil exports, with output falling from 1.5 million barrels per day to about 250,000 barrels per day.
The General National Congress Monday ordered special forces to deploy within a week to "liberate" all rebel-held ports in Libya's volatile east.
The head of the assembly ordered the formation of a force of regular soldiers and allied militias to take back the ports, which previously handled a total of more than 700,000 barrels of oil per day.
Analysts say the Libyan military would likely struggle to overcome rebels battle-hardened in the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The rebels have kept their weapons and now challenge state authority.