BEIRUT

Middle East

New Libya parliament holds first meeting

People attend a rally in support of former Libyan army officer Khalifa Haftar, in Benghazi August 1, 2014. (REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori)

BENGHAZI, Libya: Libya's new nationalist-dominated parliament was holding its first meeting Saturday in the eastern city of Tobruk, boycotted by Islamists, in a sign that deep divisions remain in the strife-torn country.

The parliament, elected on June 25, is to take over from the Islamist-dominated interim General National Congress that was elected after the 2011 ouster of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

It was to have convened in Benghazi on Monday, but a decision was taken to move the meeting forward by two days and shift it to Tobruk for security reasons.

Both Benghazi and the capital, Tripoli, are the scene of fighting that has killed more than 200 people and wounded another 1,000 in the past two weeks.

Presiding MP Abu Bakr Biira said Wednesday that, "in light of the dangerous situation in the country, we decided to hold an emergency meeting in Tobruk."

Issuing a call for reconciliation among the country's factions, he confirmed Saturday's closed-door gathering was purely consultative and that the inaugural session would be held Monday.

"We want to unite the homeland and put our differences to one side," he said, claiming that 160 of the 180 members of the new parliament had made their way to Tobruk, near the Egyptian border.

It was not possible to independently confirm that number.

Meanwhile, outgoing GNC president Nouri Abou Sahamein also said Monday's inaugural session would be held on Monday, but insisted that it would be held in Tripoli.

The international community has pressed the new legislature to move quickly to assume power amid continuing turmoil.

Tripoli has been rocked by violence since July 13, when armed groups, mainly Islamists, assaulted the international airport in a bid to oust former fellow rebels from Zintan, who have controlled it for the past three years.

The Zintan brigades are viewed by their opponents as the armed wing of Libya's nationalist movement, and the battle is seen as part of a struggle for political influence at a time when the new parliament prepares to assume office.

Nationalist factions have won the most seats in the new assembly, according to political analysts, and the Islamists are now trying to reassert their influence by military means.

Many newly elected MPs expressed reluctance about a proposed GNC move to Benghazi, with some refusing to take up their seats because of the city's rampant security problems.

 

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus
Summary

Libya's new nationalist-dominated parliament was holding its first meeting Saturday in the eastern city of Tobruk, boycotted by Islamists, in a sign that deep divisions remain in the strife-torn country.

It was to have convened in Benghazi on Monday, but a decision was taken to move the meeting forward by two days and shift it to Tobruk for security reasons.

Both Benghazi and the capital, Tripoli, are the scene of fighting that has killed more than 200 people and wounded another 1,000 in the past two weeks.

The Zintan brigades are viewed by their opponents as the armed wing of Libya's nationalist movement, and the battle is seen as part of a struggle for political influence at a time when the new parliament prepares to assume office.


Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here