New Libya parliament holds first session far from Tripoli

2014-08-05 16:35
(Mohammad Hannon, AP)

(Mohammad Hannon, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tripoli - Libya's new parliament held its first formal session on Monday to international approval, away from the clashes rocking the capital Tripoli as divisions between Islamists and nationalists deepened.

The anti-Islamist parliament, elected on 25 June, travelled all the way to Tobruk, 1 500km from Tripoli, to take the oath as rival lawmakers called for a separate session in Tripoli.

MPs said more than 160 of the 188 elected members were present in Tobruk - a figure that reflects the crushing election victory of nationalists over Islamists who dominated the former parliament.

Tobruk has been largely spared the deadly violence that has been rocking Tripoli and Libya's second city Benghazi for the past few weeks, prompting an exodus of foreign nationals from the oil-rich north African nation.

State television broadcast footage of the session, showing MPs being sworn in at a ceremony attended by representatives of the Arab League, the UN and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation.

The MPs then recessed before returning in the evening to the Dar Essalam hotel to elect a new speaker, according to MP Abu Bakr Biira, who chaired the session.

Islamist MPs and their allies from the western city of Misrata boycotted the Tobruk ceremony, branding it "anti-constitutional".

In a show of defiance, Nuri Abu Sahmein, who headed the outgoing General National Congress or parliament, invited MPs to Tripoli for a "handover of power" ceremony - an event that failed to take place.

The General National Congress was the first elected parliament in Libya after the 2011 Nato-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Muammer Gaddafi.

It called for a new assembly to be elected after repeated accusations that it was hoarding power, and now analysts say Islamists are trying to make up for their poor electoral performance through military might.

World powers congratulated the new parliament and voiced hope that lawmakers would be able to restore stability to Libya and press ahead with democratic reform.

"The governments of France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States commend the members of the Council of Representatives for beginning their work today," said a joint statement.

"The convening of the council is an important step towards putting Libya's democratic transition back on track and helping restore law and order to the country," it said.

The European Union said the Tobruk meeting was an "important step" towards democratic transition, and the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) urged warring sides to observe a ceasefire.

During a meeting in Washington, US National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani stressed the importance of "an immediate ceasefire" in Tripoli, the White House said in a statement.

They also discussed the importance of "the participation of all parties in a national dialogue to promote reconciliation", and called on Libya's international partners to "use their influence" to stop the fighting.

'A dark tunnel'

Since mid-July, Libya has seen deadly clashes between rival militias in Tripoli, where fighting broke out again on Monday, and in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Tripoli airport has been closed since gunmen, mostly Islamists, attacked it on 13 July in a bid to wrest control from the Zintan brigade of former rebels who have held it since the 2011 revolt.

Meanwhile, Islamist militias control large swathes of Benghazi after having routed special forces from Libya's second city.

The violence in Tripoli and Benghazi has killed more than 220 people and wounded around 1 000.

In a speech at Tobruk, MP Biira urged "those who carry arms to heed reason and wisdom and choose dialogue" over fighting.

UNSMIL chief of delegation Mouin Borhan denounced the violence, and warned that the fighting could plunge Libya "into a dark tunnel".

Foreigners have been fleeing Libya in droves, with the exodus gathering pace at the weekend, when Britain and Greece sent ships to evacuate nationals.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri said Monday on a visit to Tunis that up to 10 000 Egyptians fleeing the fighting in Libya are still stranded at the border with Tunisia.

The unrest is seen as a struggle for influence, between both regions and political factions, with authorities failing to rein in the dozens of militias in the absence of a structured regular army and police force.

 

Read more on:    libya  |  north africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Africa
 

Device lets disabled people talk through their nose

A device that converts nose breaths into speech will open new doors for people with Parkinson’s or motor neuron disease.

 
 

For chic geeks...

It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
This is why you should install iOS 8
17 photo illusions that look so real
Check out the speed of this robo-cheetah!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Don`t judge so quickly or expect too much, be more accepting and understanding and make space for fun and spontaneity. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.