Voice of America (Washington, DC)

11 March 2014

Libyan Prime Minister Sacked

Cairo — Libya's interim national assembly has approved a vote of no-confidence in Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, naming the current defense minister to replace him on an interim basis.

The move by the assembly to name Abdallah al-Thani came after 124 votes to dismiss the prime minister, four more than the majority needed for the motion to carry.

Libyan TV reported earlier that protesters demonstrating in front of the assembly's temporary headquarters at the Radisson Hotel tried to storm the meeting, but failed. The political drama followed news a North Korean-flagged oil tanker may have escaped a government naval blockade.

A Libyan militia controling the eastern port of Sidra defied government authority to load the tanker with oil. Various sources in Libya said the vessel had evaded government naval vessels and sailed to sea.

Libyan Coast Guard Colonel Reda Issa said the tanker had been "targeted" by Libyan vessels "55 miles off the coastal port of Sidra" and that it had been "disabled."

Sky News Arabia reported that Libyan coast guard vessels had shelled the tanker, creating a small fire on board and forcing it to halt.

Zeidan complained earlier that Islamist militiamen in an eastern region were creating instability across large swathes of the country, fighting other militias, killing civilians and issuing edicts against members of the government.

Several Libyan analysts said Islamist members of the national assembly were behind the move to dismiss Zeidan, who had clashed with the Islamists on a number of occasions.

The Islamist militia commander behind the recent tug-of-war with the government over the export of oil by the so-called "regional government of Barqa," issued a statement calling for the United States to "allow regions to export oil independently, but oversee the financial transactions."

The U.S. has condemned the sale of oil by any organization other than Libya's central government, calling attempted sales by the Barqa region "piracy."

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