Libya government divided between Thani and Maiteeq

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The government in Libya is double-headed today, after outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani refused to hand the power to Ahmad Maiteeq, further complicating the country’s ongoing crisis.

The Libyan crisis is worsening in light of the exacerbating power struggle, which led the country to a double-headed government. This happened after the outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani refused to hand over power to Ahmed Maiteeq, who formed a government that won the confidence of the General National Congress, whose legitimacy has become questionable.

Thani based his stance on a decision issued by the Department of Fatwa and Law in the judiciary, which invalidated the procedures of electing Maiteeq and its outcome, starting from him taking oath to gaining confidence.

This happened despite the parliament issuing a decision to form a committee to deliver and receive affairs between the appointed government and the outgoing one, headed by Thani. The government of Thani issued a statement declaring its commitment to judicial rulings, noting that it had received three legal opinions from the Department of Law — which is one of the independent judiciary bodies — which all stressed the illegal procedures of electing a new prime minister.

The government also pointed out an appeal made by a group of MPs before the Supreme Court to challenge the inauguration of the new government. The appeal is still under consideration and the government will commit to any court order. The Thani government welcomed the “consensus committee” that was formed by the Supreme Judicial Council and confirmed its readiness to cooperate with it to reach a “consensual solution” to the current crisis.

The outgoing government has also urged the head of parliament, Nuri Bushmin, to “refrain from taking any actions to entrust the government with new tasks before international forums, so as to preserve the prestige of the state and interests of the country.”

Libyan Justice Minister Salah Marghani told Al-Hayat, “The political crisis in Libya is severe and can only be solved through politics and by avoiding options other than dialogue between parties,” in allusion to the Maiteeq government, which is counting on the support of the Islamic movement and its affiliated armed groups. This is likely to raise fears about the use of arms to resolve the conflict.

Thani’s stance seemed to be closer to the campaign begun by the National Army, led by retired Maj. Gen. Khalifa Hifter, against the Islamic movement and Ansar al-Sharia group, even though he refrained from supporting it publicly. He stressed that he is being unbiased in the conflict, to find a solution to the crisis.

This comes at a time when Hifter’s supporters launched an airstrike against the strongholds of Ansar al-Sharia and the February 17 Brigade in Benghazi, without causing any casualties. This was a response to the statement issued by Ansar al-Sharia, in which it threatened Hifter with meeting the same fate as Col. Moammar Gadhafi. The Muslim Brotherhood was swift to condemn the statement, deeming it extremist and unacceptable.

In an attempt to contain the fallout of the killing of four civilians in Benghazi, the rebels affiliated with organized armed brigades issued a statement condemning the use of weapons and the killings and assassinations. They also prohibited the killing of foreigners who entered the country with official visas. Benghazi’s rebels urged “all parties to sit around a dialogue table, instead of resorting to the use of arms,” rejecting “the presence of foreign fighters in the country as well as any foreign interference.”

Ahmed Abu Qurain, a field commander in the February 17 Brigade, told Al-Hayat, “We call for a comprehensive Libyan dialogue that stems from the renunciation of violence and murder.” He said, “No party can legalize these practices,” stressing that “what unites Libyans is greater than what divides them.”

In a comment on the statement of Ansar al-Sharia, which attacked Hifter and was announced by the leader of the Mohammed Zahawi Organization in Benghazi, Abu Qurain said, “I do not agree to anything that could harm the interests of Libya.”

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Found in: security, politics, political conflict, libya, government, ansar al-sharia
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