Middle East

Ousted Libyan PM's plane stops in Malta

Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan speaks during a news conference in Tripoli March 8, 2014. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

ROME: A plane carrying Libya's fugitive ex-prime minister Ali Zeidan stopped briefly to refuel in Malta shortly after he was ousted from power, Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said Wednesday.

"The plane stopped in Malta for two hours to refuel before proceeding to another European country," Muscat said in a television interview, without confirming its final destination.

The stopover took place just a few hours after Zeidan on Tuesday lost a vote of confidence in the Libyan parliament.

Libya's top prosecutor late Tuesday slapped a travel ban on Zeidan because of his suspected involvement in the embezzlement of public funds.

Muscat said he met Zeidan briefly during the stopover. The meeting was "just a sign of personal friendship" between the two men, he said, adding that Malta was "following closely" what was happening in nearby Libya.

Zeidan was ousted after a North Korean-flagged tanker laden with crude oil from a rebel-held terminal broke through a naval blockade and escaped to sea.

The episode underlined the weakness of Zeidan's government, which failed to quash former rebel militia that have carved out their own fiefdoms after the 2011 uprising that ended Moamer Kadhafi's four-decade rule.

The beleaguered leader was even briefly abducted by former rebel militia in the heart of the capital last October.





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