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

- FERAS BOSALUM and AHMED ELUMAMI

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.

 ?? — AP ?? Dam­age is seen in the front yard of a build­ing at the US em­bassy com­pound in Tripoli, Libya, on Sun­day.
— AP Dam­age is seen in the front yard of a build­ing at the US em­bassy com­pound in Tripoli, Libya, on Sun­day.

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