CAIRO (AP) – The Libyan government on Sunday rejected a decision by the country’s presidential council to suspend the foreign minister over allegations of monopolization of foreign policy.
The deadlock between the two bodies is likely to increase political tensions in the North African country less than seven weeks before the scheduled elections. He also intervenes a few days before an international conference in Paris to pressure for the holding of the vote as scheduled on December 24.
The national unity government said in a statement that the presidential council does not have the right to suspend Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush. and praised the minister’s efforts as county diplomacy chief. He highlighted his work at an international conference held in the capital of Tripoli last month with the aim of solving the country’s most thorny issues ahead of the general elections.
The government has declared that appointing members of government and suspending or investigating government officials are the exclusive duties of the prime minister.
The presidential council, a three-member body serving as the country’s president until one is elected, suspended Mangoush on Saturday night and banned him from traveling abroad. He accused the minister of not coordinating foreign policy decisions with the council. The council did not specify the circumstances of the decision.
The long-awaited vote faces yet other challenges, including unresolved issues regarding the country’s electoral laws and occasional fighting between armed groups. Other obstacles include the deep divide that remains between the east and west of the country and the presence of thousands of foreign fighters and soldiers.
Libya has been in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. He was captured and killed by an armed group two months later.
The oil-rich country has for years been split between rival governments, one based in the capital, Tripoli, and the other in the east of the country. Each camp is supported by different foreign powers and militias.
The current interim government was appointed in February after months of UN-backed negotiations to lead the country to elections. It comprises the presidential council and a cabinet of ministers which manages day-to-day affairs.