Libya’s Prime Minister Zaidan Ousted in Confidence Vote

Ali Zaidan was ousted as Libya’s prime minister by lawmakers, the culmination of a campaign by Islamists and other opponents to terminate his 17 months in office.

Zaidan has faced repeated calls to step down by critics who accused him of failing to tackle corruption, curb militias and end blockades at oil installations that have cost billions of dollars in lost revenues. The decision came as separatists in the east attempted to export oil independent of the central authorities, amid reports that a tanker loaded by them had evaded government forces.

A total of 124 lawmakers in the 200-strong General National Congress voted to unseat Zaidan in a confidence motion yesterday, the state-run Lana news agency said. Defense Minister Abdullah Theni will serve as acting premier until a new one is nominated within 15 days.

Oil Minister Abdulbari Al-Arusi was among five ministers who withdrew from the government in January to protest at Zaidan remaining in office. Zaidan was briefly held by gunmen in October in a sign of widening lawlessness following the end of Muammar Qaddafi’s four-decade rule in 2011.

Zaidan left Libya for an unknown destination, Al Jazeera television reported, citing unidentified parliament officials.

The premier’s fall followed an escalation in the campaign by separatists in the eastern Barqa region, who attempted to load a North Korean-flagged tanker with crude. The Morning Glory had arrived in Es Sider, Libya’s largest export terminal, on March 8 without government permission.

Tanker Hit

The government said yesterday its forces had taken control of the tanker, though the militia denied the assertion.

Lana reported late yesterday, without saying where it got the information, that the navy had fired at the tanker and disrupted its movements, after the vessel had earlier taken advantage of bad weather conditions to slip out of the port.

Zaidan’s government lost control of eastern oil ports last July when four of them were shut by forces led by Ibrahim Al Jedran, a leader of the separatist movement.

Libya is now producing 392,000 barrels a day of crude, National Oil Corp spokesman Mohamed Elharari, said by phone yesterday from Tripoli. That’s down from about 1.6 million barrels a day at the end of 2010.

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