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Gunmen attack on parliament delays Libyan PM election - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Forces of the Military Council of Tripoli deploy next to the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli on March 3, 2014 after dozens of protesters stormed the parliament and wounded two of its members. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD TURKIA)

Forces of the Military Council of Tripoli deploy next to the Libyan Parliament in Tripoli on March 3, 2014, after dozens of protesters stormed the parliament and wounded two of its members. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Turkia)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Unidentified gunmen stormed the Libyan parliament on Tuesday during an evening session held to elect a new prime minister, resulting in the evacuation of the building and a delay in the vote.

Parliament spokesman Omar Humeidan told Asharq Al-Awsat that the armed men “forced MPs to abandon the session to select a new prime minister.”

He added that a number of people were injured in the attack, which is reported to have been carried out by supporters of Mohamed Boukar, one of the losing candidates in the first round of voting which took place on Tuesday morning.

Humeidan declined to confirm any information regarding the gunmen or their affiliations.

The Libyan government has been unable to control the heavily armed militias who helped oust late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, who have since refused to lay down their arms. The parliament building has been the subject of a number of attacks amid a lack of security in post-revolution Libya, which has also seen a number of diplomats kidnapped and some of its main oil ports occupied by rebels.

MPs started the final round of voting during Tuesday’s evening session to find a successor to former prime minister Abdallah Al-Thinni, who resigned two weeks ago after less than a month in the post following a reported attack on his family.

During the first vote for the prime minister’s post on Tuesday morning, businessman Ahmed Maitiq led the seven candidates, winning 67 votes. A second round of voting was planned to choose between Maitiq and second-place candidate Omar Al-Hasi, who won 34 votes.

Humeidan added that it would be “difficult for any candidate to win the support of 120 members of parliament, the quorum specified by the parliament’s internal regulations that were recently amended.”

Should they fail to reach agreement on a new prime minister, MPs will ask Thinni to continue in his post until a new parliament is elected in four months.

Humeidan said parliament and the government had become victims of what he called a “conflict and a struggle” between Islamists and the liberal civil movement. He said the Islamists, who are led by the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, the Justice and Construction Party (JCP), wanted to change Thinni’s government due to the withdrawal of all ministers affiliated to the Brotherhood from his Cabinet.