TRIPOLI: Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan vowed on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) to stay at his post, as Islamist ministers quit in protest at persistent lawlessness that saw him briefly abducted last year.
Zeidan accused the Justice and Construction Party—the political arm of the Libyan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood that has been bloodily repressed in neighboring Egypt since the ouster of elected President Mohamed Morsi—of seeking to destabilize his government.
The resignation of the five ministers came after three weeks of wrangling over an Islamist-inspired censure motion against the premier.
The Islamists failed to secure the required 120 votes in the 194-member General National Congress to pass the motion, and 99 members signed a petition of protest earlier Tuesday.
But Zeidan, an independent who has the backing of the liberal Alliance of National Forces, remained defiant, telling the private Al-Ahrar television channel he would not step down.
Zeidan has said repeatedly that he will quit only when there is consensus on a successor to avoid a power vacuum in the midst of the mounting insecurity gripping large swathes of the country two and a half years after the overthrow of veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
Earlier this month, the premier said he would soon announce a major cabinet reshuffle, something he promised to do repeatedly last summer without ever taking action.
Zeidan has said his critics in the GNC are a “minority,” but said he would “willingly” leave the post of premier if the assembly chose to replace him.
The JCP said it was “withdrawing its ministers from Zeidan’s government and holds those in the Congress who backed his government responsible.”
Zeidan was “incapable of taking the country where it needs to go,” the party said.
The party has five ministers in Libya’s 32-member interim administration—those for oil, electricity, housing, economy and sport.
Earlier, 99 MPs, including those of the JCP, signed a petition of protest accusing Zeidan of a “crushing failure” in his efforts to assert central government control over former rebel militias that operate with virtual impunity across much of the country.