Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Libya’s newly appointed interim prime minister, Ahmed Maiteeq, found himself embroiled in further controversy on Thursday after Libya’s Administration of Fatwa and Law—a division of the Justice Ministry—ruled his appointment illegal.
“The Maiteeq government is illegitimate and the Thinni government has sole legitimacy in Libya,” the Administration of Fatwa and Law said yesterday in reference to former interim prime minister Abdallah Al-Thinni.
Libyan government spokesman Ahmed Al-Amin informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Tripoli has yet to receive the Justice Ministry’s formal decision regarding the legitimacy of the Maiteeq government.
“In any case, we will abide by the law. The ball is now in the court of the GNC. The issue did not end with the appointment of Maiteeq . . . We must wait and see whether the GNC will grant this government confidence,” he said.
The embattled prime minister, who was appointed only on Sunday, has faced several challenges to his mandate by members of Libya’s General National Congress (GNC), including from chairman Ezzedine Al-Amawi.
Libya’s longstanding political crisis has deepened in recent weeks as difficulties in forming a government prevented any steps being taken to permanently resolve an entrenched federalist–separatist movement in the eastern Cyrenaica region.
Maiteeq’s Sunday election came during a particularly chaotic session of the GNC. An initial vote scheduled for last week to choose a successor to interim prime minister Abdallah Al-Thinni was postponed after gunmen stormed the Congress building.
The new interim prime minister, a politician from Misrata in northwestern Libya, was selected following several rounds of voting. Reports in the local press indicate he eventually secured 121 of 185 votes cast.
But GNC chairman Amawi eventually declared that vote illegal and called on Thinni—who resigned in April following an attack on his family—to continue as caretaker prime minister.
With Libya now effectively having two prime ministers, it is unclear how even the minimal state efforts to contain militias and rebel groups that have swept the country since the 2011 revolution that ousted longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi can continue.
Rebels occupying a number of major oil ports in Libya’s eastern Cyrenaica earlier this week also announced they are refusing to negotiate with Maiteeq, after having reached an agreement with Thinni to re-open four crucial oil ports. Their refusal to work with the new interim prime minister is keeping two major export ports closed, in what represents a blow to efforts to restore the country’s flailing oil industry.
Abd-Rabbo Al-Barassi, the self-declared prime minister of the rebel movement in Cyrenaica, announced that rebels will not deal with Maiteeq, claiming he had come to power illegally in comments to a rebel television channel.