Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Libyan prime minister ousted by parliament after tanker was loaded in rebel held port

A file photo of the new acting Libyan prime minister and his predecessor, Al-Thinni (R) and Zeidan.

Former Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan has fled to Europe after parliament voted him out of office on Tuesday over his failure to stop rebels exporting oil independently. The General National Congress (GNC), Libya's transitional assembly, agreed Defence Minister Abdallah al-Thinni would be acting prime minister for two weeks. Deputies plan to pick another replacement in the interim ahead of a parliamentary vote expected later this year. 
Zeidan was in Malta for two hours late on Tuesday on a refueling stop before going to "another European country". But no European government had confirmed his arrival by late morning on Wednesday.
Parliament acted after rebels holding three key ports in the east disobeyed government orders and loaded a North Korean-flagged tanker with oil at the port of As-Sidra, as part of their drive for autonomy. Although Zeidan had threatened to use force to stop the vessel leaving, the tanker managed to reach international waters, undermining Zeidan's credibility. Libya's state prosecutor Abdel-Qader Radwan had issued a travel ban on Zeidan because he faces an investigation over alleged irregularities involving misuse of state funds.
Libya has no effective army, police or political institutions, and the government is in danger of running out of money because the rebel activity at oilfields and ports have dried up vital oil revenue. Oil output has fallen to a trickle.
Clashes broke out on Tuesday between rebel gunmen and pro-government forces in Sirte, a central coastal city dividing western and eastern Libya, where two of the country's major rival militias have their powerbases.
The rebels are made up of former oil security forces which defected with their leader Ibrahim Jathran, a former Gaddafi fighter, in the summer and took over the oil terminals to claim more autonomy for their self-declared Cyrenaica region.

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