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Libyan PM ousted after losing confidence vote

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-03-12

Libyan lawmakers voted on Tuesday to oust prime minister Ali Zeidan (pictured), after rebels loaded a North Korea-flagged tanker with millions of dollars' worth of crude oil, sparking a standoff between the central government and militias.

Following the confidence vote, the chamber named Defense Minister Abdullah al-Thani as interim prime minister.

Zeidan made no immediate comment about his ouster, which raises fresh security fears.

Most politicians in Libya are backed by militias with regional or ideological allegiances, many of which are not likely to accept his removal.

Later Tuesday, Libya’s state prosecutor Abdel-Qader Radwan said he had banned Zeidan from travelling abroad because he is being investigated for alleged financial corruption and other irregularities.

“Zeidan’s removal was predictable,” FRANCE 24’s Marine Casalis reported from neighbouring Tunisia. “Parliament had been trying to get rid of him for months. They were able to use the oil crisis and the fact he was unable to solve it as an argument to show what little power he had.”

Tanker's attempted escape

Es Sider, one of the OPEC member country’s main oil export terminals, has been held for months by eastern fighters demanding more regional autonomy from Tripoli. The incident involving the tanker marks the easterners’ first attempt to sell oil.

There were initially conflicting reports over whether the tanked vessel had actually managed to escape out into the sea or not – with the government on Monday claiming it had seized it and rebels saying it had got away.

But on Tuesday, Walid al-Tarhouni, a spokesman for Libya’s oil protection force, told al-Nabaa television that after managing to escape in bad weather, the navy had tracked down the tanker again and opened fire on it, partly damaging the vessel.

Italian vessels were helping the navy secure the tanker, he said, which had now sailed further east.

Aside from Es Sider, rebels have also seized two other ports and partly control a fourth.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-03-11

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