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Crisis in Libya's interim cabinet as 6 ministers step down

6 members of interim cabinet resign over government "bias", while Libya's neighbours discuss intervention
Checkpoints in Tobruk aiming to secure Libya's interim parliament, the House of Representatives (Twitter / @dovenews)

Six House of Representatives ministers in Libya's interim cabinet have resigned in protest over what they describe as government bias toward a "certain party" in the country's current conflict - without specifying the party in question.

The ministers of industry, labour, planning, education, water resources and war victims' affairs all resigned on Wednesday citing perceived bias on the part of the government towards one particular party to the conflict, according to Libya's official news agency.

"The resignations were prompted by the government's siding with one of Libya's rival groups and its failure to tackle a number of issues," resigned industry minister Suleiman al-Latif told the Al-Nabaa television channel.

He went on to assert that the government was taking policy decisions without ministers' knowledge, declining to elaborate further.

The head of Tobruk’s Military Zone, Colonel Rafidi, has also been sidelined from his role, reports Mohammed el-Jarh, a Libya expert.

Rafidi had been slow to show his support for Colonel Haftar’s Operation Dignity, the campaign launched by the rogue army commander on May 16 with the aim of ridding Libya of unruly militia groups.

Regional reactions to intervention rumours

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister Munji al-Hamidi gave a speech on Wednesday afternoon rejecting the idea of foreign intervention in Libya.

“We confirm our wholesale rejection of all regional and international interventions in Libyan affairs.”

“We hope the solution will be Libyan-Libyan.”

However, he did allude to a “strategic partnership” between Tunisia and regional powers.

“Terrorism…is a regional, rather than a national, threat – because of this, we have worked towards a strategic partnership with Algeria, Egypt and Morocco on Libya.”

There are also reports that Nouri Abusahmain, head of the General National Congress which is also claiming legitimacy, visited Algeria on Tuesday to seek solutions to the issue of international intervention in Libyan affairs.

The US had seemed to confirm on Tuesday earlier reports that the UAE and Egypt carried out bombing raids against Islamist forces in Libya.

"We do believe there were air strikes undertaken in recent days by the UAE and Egypt inside Libya," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told a news conference.

The State Department also confirmed the air attacks, but officials did not say whether Washington was notified in advance.

Officials on told the New York Times on Monday that the US had not been informed of their allies’ plans prior to the strikes.

However, later in the day the US State Department backed away from the statement, saying it had been “intended to refer to countries reportedly involved, not speak for them.”

Egypt has consistently denied involvement in the strikes, though it promised on Tuesday to provide equipment and training for Libya’s armed forces.

The United Nations Security Council will discuss the security situation in Libya in Wednesday.

Unrest in Tripoli, Tobruk, Sirte

In Sirte, four Egyptian Coptic Christians were kidnapped on Wednesday as they attempted to travel from the capital Tripoli towards the border with Egypt.

There were seven passengers travelling in the car, according to one of the travellers who spoke to Libyan news site al-Wasat, but three of them were released when the militants discovered that they were Muslims.

In Tobruk, seat of the House of Representatives, checkpoints have been established in order to secure the interim parliament, which relocated there after fierce fighting broke out in the capital.

Photo credit: Twitter / @dovenews

Reports circulated in Libyan news sources that Zintan militias, opposed to the Misrata-allied Libya Dawn fighters who took control of the capital’s airport at the weekend, were heading to Tripoli.

There was also popular outcry after a strike hit the capital’s Gazelle and the Beauty Statue, a cultural icon in the city centre.

Photo credit: Twitter / @dovenews

The Electricity Ministry headquarters in the city was also broken into and looted, with the theft of several cars, according to reports on the ministry’s official Facebook page.

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