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Nov 6, 2014 5:35 AM

Libya court rules June elections unconstitutional

The Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) Libya's Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the June election that produced an internationally recognized legislature and government was unconstitutional, further deepening a political divide that has fueled months of militia fighting.

The court issued its ruling from the capital Tripoli, which is controlled by Islamist-allied militias from the powerful western coastal city of Misrata that back a rival government dominated by Islamist factions. The militias forced the internationally recognized parliament, dominated by anti-Islamists, to convene in the far eastern city of Tobruk.

Abu-Bakr Baeira, a leading lawmaker in the Tobruk parliament, rejected the court decision, described it as "politicized" and said that it will only pave the way for the country's partition.

"Tripoli is hijacked," he told The Associated Press over the phone from Tobruk. "We don't recognize anything that comes out of it." He added that the Tobruk parliament is now holding a session to discuss the ruling and take action.

The deputy head of the Tripoli parliament, however, hailed the ruling as a "victory for the nation." Saleh al-Makhzoum said it had rendered the Tobruk parliament "nonexistent."

The Tobruk parliament is the second elected legislative body since longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and killed in a 2011 Arab Spring-inspired uprising. Since then, Libya has been gripped by unrest as the weak central authorities have struggled to reign in regional, ideological and other militias vying for power.

The Misrata militias and their allies launched an offensive after Islamists lost in the June elections, eventually capturing Tripoli and its international airport, which was largely destroyed in weeks of fierce fighting.

After seizing Tripoli, the militias revived the outgoing parliament -- whose mandate had expired -- and formed a "salvation government."


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