Libya’s eastern-based parliament withdraws confidence from unity government

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Libya’s eastern-based parliament on Tuesday passed a no-confidence vote in the country’s unity government, in a new blow to UN-backed peace efforts.

Eighty-nine of the 113 MPs present in the eastern city of Tobruk voted to withdraw confidence from the Tripoli-based administration of interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah, a spokesman said.

The escalation came amid growing tensions between Dbeibah’s Tripoli-based administration and the House of Representatives in the east, three months ahead of planned national elections.

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Speaker Aguila Saleh earlier this month ratified an electoral law seen as bypassing due process and favoring eastern-based military general Khalifa Haftar.

The High Council of State, the parliament’s upper house in Tripoli, had rejected that legislation on Monday.

The law had been passed “without a legal vote or consensus,” the HCS said, calling for presidential elections to be postponed for a year.

The council also reacted quickly to Tuesday’s vote.

“The HCS rejects the no-confidence measure against the national unity government,” a spokesman said, adding that the vote contravened an agreement signed in the Moroccan town of Skheirat in 2015.

Dbeibah’s transitional administration took office in February with a mandate to guide the North African country to elections on December 24, part of a United Nations-led process aimed at ending a decade of violence following the fall and killing of former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi.

That came after an October ceasefire between western Libyan forces and Haftar, who had waged a year-long assault on the capital that left thousands dead.

Critics of Saleh’s move have pointed to a clause stipulating that military officials may stand in presidential polls on condition they withdraw from their posts three months beforehand.

That would allow for a presidential run by Haftar, whose forces control eastern Libya, where the parliament is based, as well as parts of the south.

Mohamed Eljarh, a consultant at Libya Outlook, tweeted that Tuesday’s no-confidence vote was “a major escalation” by the parliament “at this critical juncture” that would “add to the confusion and uncertainty” in Libya.

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