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New Libyan parliament opens

August 4, 2014

Newly elected Libyan parliament has held its first official session in the city of Tobruk as militias continue to fight over the north African country’s oil-rich towns. The meeting was boycotted by pro-Islamist members.

Symbolbild Libyen Flagge
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo

The 200-member House of Representatives elected in June took over the mandate from the previous assembly on Monday. Its predecessors, the General Congress, were elected in 2012 and dominated by Islamist parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Monday session was attended by around 170 lawmakers and was observed by members of the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

The newly-elected parliamentarians had held an emergency session in the eastern city of Tobruk on Saturday, August 2, to discuss the spiraling violence in the country. The session was moved to Tobruk because of the ongoing fighting in the capital Tripoli and the strategically-important port city of Benghazi.

For two weeks, rival militias have been battling for control of the main Tripoli airport. At least 200 people have been killed in the country's worse violence since the toppling of former dictator Muamar Gaddafi's government in 2011.

Post-Gaddafi rulers have struggled to impose order with much of the country paralyzed by political infighting and armed conflicts.

'Model state'

New parliamentarians, however, expressed hope and optimism for the country's future.

"We will prove to the world that Libya is not a failed country, and will rise very soon to become a model state," lawmaker Abu Bakr Baira said at the beginning of the session.

The session was boycotted by pro-Islamist members who called for holding a rival opening session in Tripoli.

"We are in a crucial period where the rattle of guns are louder than reason," said Ezz Eddin al-Awami, a member of the outgoing parliament, at the Tobruk meeting.

Evacuations and travel restrictions

France has already evacuated French and British nationals from Libya due to the worsening security situation in the north African country. The French embassy has also been temporarily closed.

Other European countries including Britain, Germany and the Netherlands have also advised their nationals to leave the country.

The United States evacuated staff from its Libyan embassy two weeks ago.

shs/kms (Reuters, dpa, AP)