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Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

© Mahmud Turkia, AFP | Islamist militias claim to have seized Tripoli airport after intense fighting

Video by Halla MOHIEDDEEN

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-08-29

Libya's toothless interim government, led by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani, announced late Thursday it had tendered its resignation to the elected parliament, days after a rival Islamist administration was created.

The interim government, operating in the east of the country to avoid the Islamist militias which have a strong presence in Tripoli, said it "presented its resignation to the elected parliament", which is based in Tobruk, 600 kilometres east of the capital, also for security reasons.

Thani resigned three days after Libya's General National Congress, officially replaced by the parliament elected in June, on Monday named pro-Islamist figure Omar al-Hassi to form a "salvation government".

The Islamist-dominated GNC convened in Tripoli following an appeal by Islamists groups which contest the legitimacy of the parliament based in Tobruk.

Limited legitimacy

"Only a quarter of the electorate had voted for the House of Representatives so it has a very limited legitimacy," said Marine Casalis, FRANCE 24's correspondent in neighbouring Tunisia. She added that the new parliament was deeply divided, with 20 members boycotting it in protest at the decision to move sessions to Tobruk.

FRANCE 24's Marine Casalis reports from Tunis

"The GNC dismissed Abdullah al-Thani as head of government and gave Omar al-Hassi a week to form a salvation government," GNC spokesman Omar Ahmidan told journalists in Tripoli on Monday.

Islamists called for the GNC to reconvene after they accused parliament of complicity in air raids last week on Islamists battling to capture Tripoli international airport from the nationalist Zintan militia.

The outgoing administration denounced the move to create an alternative Islamist government.

"It's an act of rebellion against the legitimacy of parliament which is recognised by the international community," it said.

The Islamists claimed to have seized the airport and television pictures on Monday showed them apparently running rampage and celebrating their capture of the facility.

In its resignation statement the Thani government said it hoped parliament, which it described as "the only legitimate authority in the country", would form a new government "representing all Libyan people... and capable of re-establishing security and building a lawful state".

That will also be the wish of the international community which has become increasingly concerned at the chaotic situation in Libya.

"The UN mission in Libya is now calling for national dialogue, but it is hard to see how the parliament in Tobruk, the one that is recognised by the international community, will be able to form a government of national union that could represent all sides in the conflict at a time when polarization has much deepened and Libya is about to have two parliaments and two governments," FRANCE 24's Casalis said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-08-29

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