A threat by powerful militias to dissolve parliament ramped up pressure on Libya’s weak central government Wednesday on the eve of a vote to elect a constitution-drafting panel. The vote is the latest milestone in the chaotic transition following the 2011 overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi, but has generated little enthusiasm among Libyans frustrated by the government’s inability to impose order on former rebels. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said late Tuesday a “compromise” had been reached with ex-rebel militias who had given Libya’s interim assembly a deadline to hand over power. Zeidan said the deadline had been extended by 72 hours but did not give further details of the compromise, telling journalists only that “wisdom has prevailed” after discussions with representatives from the militias, the assembly and the United Nations.
Powerful militias made up of former rebels from the western town of Zintan had given the General National Congress, the country’s highest political authority, a late Tuesday deadline to quit, threatening to seize any lawmaker who ignored it.
The Zintan commanders criticised the GNC’s decision to extend its mandate past a February 7 cut-off date.
One of the commanders, Jamal Habil, accused the parliament of “seizing power” and said it was trying to extend its mandate for as long as possible.