Gunmen storm Libyan parliament to halt vote

AFP, TRIPOLI

Thu, May 01, 2014 - Page 6

Gunmen stormed the Libyan parliament on Tuesday, forcing lawmakers to postpone a vote for a new prime minister to take on the lawlessness gripping the North African nation.

The election was triggered by the resignation of former Libyan prime minister Abdallah al-Thani earlier this month, who quit just five days after his appointment, saying he and his family had come under attack.

Thani, a former defense minister, had only got the job because MPs could agree on a replacement after they ousted his predecessor Ali Zeidan in March to punish his failure to prevent a rebel oil shipment. Zeidan then fled abroad.

There was no immediate word on the identity or motive of the gunmen who carried out the assault on parliament, which came as MPs were preparing to hold a second round of voting to replace al-Thani.

The General National Congress had been preparing to hold a second-round vote between two candidates after the first vote earlier in the day among seven candidates ended with businessman Ahmed Miitig emerging as the frontrunner with 67 votes from the 152 lawmakers present.

University professor Omar al-Hassi, from Benghazi, was runner-up, with 34 votes.

Some MPs said the attack was carried out by partisans of one of the two men after rumors began circulating that he would lose the vote.