Libya’s Supreme Court has invalidated the elected parliament after a legal challenge by a group of politicians.
Libya’s parliament was internationally recognized.
The court said the parliament was unconstitutional, dealing a blow to Libya’s elected government, which is operating in the country’s east.
The ruling was celebrated by militias occupying the capital Tripoli, who have set up an alternative parliament.
Politicians in Tobruk, the city near the Egyptian border where the parliament is now based, have repeatedly alleged that Tripoli’s courts, judges and their families have been under threat by the coalition of armed groups that controls the capital.
Prosecution lawyers who won Thursday’s case denied that claim.
Libya’s Supreme Court has invalidated the elected parliament after a legal challenge by a group of politicians (photo Reuters)
The reason for the court’s decision is not yet clear. Those behind the challenge – a minority group of dissident lawmakers – say the parliament is unconstitutional because it does not sit in Tripoli or Benghazi, AFP news agency reports.
The group added that parliament had overstepped its authority by calling for foreign military assistance against the militias.
Libya has been plagued by instability since the overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Different groups now control most of the country including the two largest cities, Tripoli and Benghazi.
Islamist-leaning militias, some of them remnants of forces which helped oust Muammar Gaddafi, have been fighting for power among themselves.
Recent clashes forced the country’s parliament to move to Tobruk.
The groups that took control of the capital in August attempted to reinstate Libya’s previous parliament and appoint a parallel government, but this has not been recognized internationally.
Meanwhile, a cousin of Muammar Gaddafi has said that former regime figures are planning to return to Libya within two months.
Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam told the Times newspaper that they would return once government forces regained control of the country’s major cities.
He claimed exiled supporters of Muammar Gaddafi were in talks with parliament, despite it being forced out of the capital.
Dozens of militiamen have occupied Libya’s parliament to register their anger over the formation of the new government.
The gunmen are demanding some of the ministers be removed because they have links to the late Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
At least a dozen trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns are lining the main road to the parliament.
Libya held a peaceful election in July and finally agreed the composition of a government on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Ali Zidan gained the support of the National Congress for his choice of ministers.
His list included liberal figures and Islamists in an attempt to forge a coalition acceptable to all parties.
But negotiations were disrupted by protests earlier this week.
And late on Wednesday gunmen broke through security and occupied the Congress building.
Some of the gunmen are dressed in scruffy army fatigues and others in civilian clothes.
Some are from the western city of Misrata and others are from Tripoli, and few are willing to talk to the media.
“Some of them have had long ties with Gaddafi, we don’t want them,” said a militiaman dressed in civilian clothes.
Presidential guards are stationed in the Congress complex and have been ordered not to fight with the men.
The militiamen are believed to be in talks with politicians to resolve the stand-off.
Despite largely peaceful elections in July, Libya’s transition continues to be affected by instability.
Reining in the different militia and trying to integrate them into a single national army will be one of the biggest challenges for any new government, analysts say.
The new government has representatives from the two most prominent blocs in Congress – the Alliance of National Forces led by liberal former Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party.
Ali Zidan said he had tried to strike a balance between Libya’s different regions in making the appointments.
According to his list, the defence and interior ministries would be headed by ministers from the eastern city of Benghazi, considered to be the cradle of last year’s revolution that ended Gaddafi’s rule.
Two women are also among the ministers proposed by Ali Zidan.