Libya’s Supreme Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled the election of Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq as “illegal,” saying the vote on which the premier was elected violated the country’s temporary constitution.
Maiteeq was elected in a chaotic election marked by disputes over the quorum and the votes system.
Initially, 113 members of the National Congress voted for him in the televised session, falling short of the quorum of 120 votes. In a second round of voting, Maiteeq secured 121 votes in the 185-seat parliament.
Dissenting MPs said the second round was illegal because the chairman of the National Council had already declared the voting was over.
The court that annulled the vote cited the lack of a quorum. Maiteeq’s lawyers argued the election was legitimate.
The election was held after caretaker Prime Minister Abdallah al-Thinni resigned due to an attack on his home.
Al-Thinni has since refused to hand over power to Maiteeq unless the dispute over his election is resolved.
Maiteeq, backed by Islamist militia forces, last week stormed the office of al-Thinni and held his first cabinet meeting there.
Al-Thinni, however, vowed to stay in power.
On Thursday, he travelled to the eastern city of Benghazi, hit by heavy fighting between irregular forces and Islamists for the last three weeks, according to Reuters.
Public life in the port city, a base for oil firms, has largely come to a standstill since renegade general Khalifa Haftar declared war on the Islamist militias, saying the government had failed to tackle them. Tripoli has denounced Haftar as trying to stage a coup.
More than 100 people have been killed in almost daily clashes, sometimes involving helicopters or warplanes and hitting residential districts. Universities have been mostly closed and many residents have been hiding indoors.
With a no-fly zone in place, Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni and several ministers had to fly to Abraq airport 200 km (120 miles) east of Benghazi and travel from there by car.
“We came to Benghazi to support the city’s residents, Special Forces and security forces,” Thinni told Reuters during the visit. “We know what the special forces need in terms of weapons and ammunition.”
He said wounded people would be sent abroad for treatment. Local hospitals have asked for blood donations because of the large number of casualties.
Libya is in protracted turmoil three years after the NATO-backed war that ousted Qaddafi, with Islamist, anti-Islamist, regional and political factions locked in conflict.
Qaddafi’s one-man rule, followed by three years of unrest, have left Libya with few functioning institutions and no real national army to impose authority on the competing militias and brigades of former rebels who have become power-brokers.
[with Reuters]SHOW MORE