Prime Minister Ali Zeidan (left) and Defence Minister Abdullah Al Thani
TRIPOLI: The Libyan parliament ousted Prime Minister Ali Zeidan yesterday after a tanker laden with crude oil from a rebel-held terminal broke through a naval blockade and escaped to sea. Defence Minister Abdullah Al Thani was named caretaker premier.
The no-confidence motion was approved by 124 of the 194 members of the General National Congress, four more than the majority required, MPs said.
Zeidan, an independent elected with the support of liberals, has proved incapable of bringing to heel the myriad of former rebel militia that have carved out their own fiefdoms since the 2011 uprising that toppled the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi. The premier was himself briefly abducted by former rebel militia in the heart of the capital last October.
In a new humiliation for his government, a North Korean-flagged tanker laden that had taken on a cargo of oil from a rebel-held terminal in the east slipped the warships deployed to intercept it and escaped to sea earlier yesterday.
Zeidan’s government had threatened armed action, even an air strike, to prevent the tanker getting away with the oil bought from the rebels’ self-declared autonomous regional government without the authorisation of the state-owned Libyan National Oil Corp. But bad weather prevented the small naval vessels from following the huge ship out into the Mediterranean from Al Sidra, MPs said.
MPs voiced anger at the failure of Zeidan’s government to make good on its threat to stop the tanker by force if necessary.
“The situation in the country has become unacceptable. Even those MPs who used to support the prime minister no longer have any alternative,” MP Suad Gannur said. Zeidan had warned that the country faced chaos if he were ousted without a consensus on his replacement.