Libya’s eastern-based parliament has passed a no-confidence vote in the country’s unity government in a new blow to UN-backed peace efforts, but said the administration would continue to operate in a caretaker role.
Eighty-nine out of the 113 members of parliament present in the eastern city of Tobruk voted on Tuesday to withdraw confidence from the Tripoli-based administration of interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid 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 in advance of planned national elections.
Earlier this month, speaker Aguila Saleh ratified an electoral law seen as bypassing due process and favouring eastern-based renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.
The High Council of State (HCS), 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 this year with a mandate to guide the North African country to elections on December 24, part of a UN-led process aimed at ending a decade of violence following the fall of 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.