Libya’s eastern-based parliament withdrew its support for the unity government and will continue to operate as a caretaker administration, signalling a threat to a months-long peace process.
The vote in the House of Representatives exemplifies wrangling between rival factions and state bodies plaguing UN-backed efforts to resolve Libya’s decade-long crisis by establishing a unity government and holding national elections.
Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah addressed supporters in Tripoli on Tuesday, accusing some parliament members of obstructionism and bringing evil and destruction to the country.
“Legitimacy rests with you the people… it is you who will decide in the elections,” he said.
In 2014, eastern and western factions split Libya in a civil war, with an internationally recognised government in Tripoli and a rival administration backed by the House of Representatives in the east.
Dbeibah’s unity government was selected through a UN-sponsored dialogue and his government installed by the House of Representatives in March, replacing warring administrations.
Dbeibeh has a mandate to unify state institutions, improve government services and prepare for national presidential and parliamentary elections.
On Tuesday, after parliament summoned Dbeibeh and his ministers to answer questions, 89 of the 113 members voted to withdraw confidence in him, the chamber’s spokesman and several other parliament members said.
The UN forum decided presidential and parliamentary elections should take place on December 24, but disagreements rage over the legal basis for votes and the laws that will govern them.
This month, parliamentary speaker Aguila Saleh said the House of Representatives passed a law for the presidential election, but did not hold a final vote on the bill.
The validity of that law was challenged by the High Council of State in Tripoli, in the west, which produced its own, alternative election law.
The House of Representatives, elected seven years ago but divided when Libya split, has not yet produced a law for a parliamentary election.
The UN Libya mission said the unity government would remain the legitimate administration until it was replaced through a regular process following elections.
It added the House of Representatives should finalise a parliamentary election law in the course of next week and “refrain from any action that could undermine the electoral process and the country’s unity, security and stability”.