The Asian Age
West- backed PM renamed as Libya teeters on precipice
Govt loses control of Tripoli ministries to militia Kerry calls PM Thinni, urges reconciliation
Libya’s House of Representatives reappointed Prime Minister Abdullah al- Thinni on Monday as the government lost control of ministries in the capital where armed groups have taken over and a separate Parliament has claimed legitimacy.
The Parliament that was elected in June moved to the remote eastern city of Tobruk last month as rival armed groups battled for Tripoli. An alliance led by forces from the western city of Misrata seized control of the capital last week.
The reappointment of Mr Thinni, a former defence minister and career soldier who has been Prime Minister since March, sets him the challenge of reasserting government control over a country where many fear a descent into full- scale civil war.
Parliamentary spokesman Faraj Hashem said 64 of the 106 representatives present had voted for Mr Thinni and the House had instructed him “to form a crisis government within a period of time not exceeding two weeks”.
US foreign minister John Kerry called Mr Thinni before his appointment to give his support, the Libyan government said in a statement. Both stressed the need for national dialogue and reconciliation, it added.
In a stark illustration of the government’s loss of control in Tripoli, a video posted online showed dozens of men, some armed, crowding around a swimming pool at an US embassy building, with some diving in from a nearby building.
Washington said on Sunday that an armed group had taken over an abandoned annex of the US embassy but had not broken into the main compound. All embassy staff were evacuated last month.
Late on Sunday, the government released a statement admitting it had lost its grip on many levers of power. “We announce that most ministries, institutions and state bodies in the capital Tripoli are out of our control,” it said, adding that armed groups had prevented staff from entering some government buildings. All ministries, the central bank and the stateowned National Oil Corp are located in the capital. The victory of Misrata forces in Tripoli has not yet affected oil production but traders say ownership of the oil might be subject to legal challenges if those forces take control of the central bank, where crude revenues are booked.
The groups now controlling Tripoli, some of which have Islamist leanings, refuse to recognise the Parliament in Tobruk, which has a strong liberal and federalist presence.
They have reconvened the previous Parliament, the General National Congress, in which Islamists were strongly represented.
The government said that armed factions had attacked a Tripoli camp for internally displaced people from the western town of Tawergha.