Magharebia (Washington DC)

26 August 2014

Libya: Political Crisis Splits Libya

Photo: Wikipedia
Tripoli International Airport has become a battle ground as rival politician fight to gain control (file photo).

Nadia Radwan in Benghazi contributed to this report for Magharebia - 26/08/2014

Libya has two rival governments, after the outgoing General National Congress convened in Tripoli on Monday (August 25th) to name its own premier.

The GNC, which was replaced this month by the House of Representatives elected in June, appointed pro-Islamist figure Omar al-Hassi.

But a government headed by interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani already exists.

"The meeting was illegal, its decisions are illegal and the only legislative body is parliament," AFP quoted al-Thani as saying from Tobruk in a joint news conference with House of Representatives head Ageela Saleh.

According to Libya Herald, the two officials also condemned Grand Mufti Sadik Al-Ghariani, who has criticised the newly elected legislative body and voiced support for Islamist militias.

"The grand mufti has issued illegitimate and incorrect fatwas," the prime minister said.

Overnight Saturday, the House of Representatives - also based in Tobruk for security reasons - stated its intention to fight back against the Islamists, using the regular armed forces.

"The groups acting under the names of Fajr Libya and Ansar al-Sharia are terrorists and outlaws that are rising up against the legitimate powers," parliament charged.

The move came soon after outlaw militias declared control of Tripoli International Airport.

The political upheaval in Libya also coincides with a meeting of Libya's neighbours to discuss the regional implications of the unrest.

Monday in Cairo, the foreign ministers of Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan and Chad voiced support for Libya's House of Representatives. The countries also backed an Egyptian call for rival militias in Libya to be disarmed, and agreed that there should be no foreign intervention to stem the violence, AFP reported.

Libyans, meanwhile, are reacting to the news of the GNC reappearance.

Nasser Hussain, a 40-year-old employee, said: "The House of Representatives elected by the people is the only legitimate body in Libya."

Abdullah Nayed, a 35-year-old electronic engineer, said, "The primary objective of Operation Libya Dawn is to thwart the parliament, after the Muslim Brotherhood and groups affiliated with the Islamic movement failed to win seats." "The presence of the parliament in Tobruk means it became out of the control of the battalions and Shields of the Brotherhood, which used to do as they wished," he added.

Ahmed Alzentani, a dealer, denounced what he called an "evil attempt of coup d'état".

"Tripoli and its facilities and its airport and bridges were destroyed, its population forced out and its movement paralysed for over two months, in order for malicious people to achieve their political goals of a coup against legitimacy and the return of their domination of the reins of power," he told Magharebia.

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Tripoli International Airport has become a battle ground as rival politician fight to gain control (file photo).

The country's political and military crisis took a turn for the worse following a decision by the Islamist coalition, which controls the capital, to appoint a new prime minister ... Read more »