Libyan prime minister ousted after tanker carrying rebel oil escapes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 March, 2014, 1:58am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 March, 2014, 1:58am


The Libyan parliament ousted Prime Minister Ali Zeidan yesterday after a tanker laden with crude oil from a rebel-held terminal broke through a naval blockade and escaped to sea.

The no-confidence motion was approved by 124 of the 194 members of the General National Congress, four more than the majority required, MPs said.

Zeidan, an independent elected with the support of liberals, has proved incapable of bringing to heel the myriad of former rebel militia that have carved out their own fiefdoms since the 2011 uprising that toppled  Muammar Gaddafi.

In a new humiliation for his government, a North Korean-flagged tanker that had taken on a cargo of oil from a rebel-held terminal in the east slipped the warships deployed to intercept it and escaped to sea  yesterday.

The Morning Glory, which docked in Al-Sidra on Saturday and is reported to have taken on at least 234,000 barrels of crude, is the first vessel to have loaded oil from a rebel-held terminal since the challenge against the Tripoli authorities erupted last July. Zeidan’s government had threatened armed action to prevent the tanker getting away with the oil bought from the rebels’ self-declared autonomous regional government without the authorisation of the state-owned Libyan National Oil Corp.

But bad weather prevented the small naval vessels – mostly fast patrol boats – from following the huge ship out into the Mediterranean from Al-Sidra, MPs said.

“The oil tanker took advantage of poor weather conditions to head for the open sea. The ships that were surrounding it were not in a position to follow,” one MP said.

MPs voiced anger at the failure of Zeidan’s government to make good on its threat to stop the tanker by force if necessary.

“The situation in the country has become unacceptable. Even those MPs who used to support the prime minister no longer have any alternative,” MP Suad Gannur said.

The GNC now has two weeks to agree on a replacement prime minister. Defence Minister Abdullah al-Thani was named caretaker premier.