TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The former Libyan parliament replaced in national elections in June reconvened on Monday to elect an Islamist-backed deputy as prime minister, challenging the authority of the turbulent country’s new legislature.
The old General National Congress (GNC), where Islamists had a strong voice, has refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of its successor assembly, the House of Representatives, which is dominated by liberals and federalists.
A parliamentary spokesman said the GNC, which met in the capital Tripoli, elected Omar al-Hasi as its new leader. The House of Representatives meets in the eastern town of Tobruk, far from the continuing clashes in Tripoli and Benghazi.
The GNC reconvened after armed factions from the western city of Misrata forced a rival faction from Zintan out of Tripoli’s main airport on Saturday after a month of fighting.
The Misrata-led brigade, backed by an Islamist militia called Operation Dawn, had called on the GNC to resume work. The Zintan faction opposed the old assembly and many in Misrata feel the new parliament does not represent the majority.
The struggle is part of the anarchic situation in Libya where the Zintanis and Misratis, who joined forces in 2011 to topple strongman Muammar Gaddafi, have now turned their guns on each other to monopolise power and exploit oil resources.
Western powers fear Libya will turn into a failed state or break out in civil war as the government is unable to control various armed groups in a country awash with heavy weapons.
Reporting by Feras Bosalum; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Tom Heneghan