By Aymen Majid and Ajnadin Mustafa.
Benghazi/Tripoli, 12 August 2015:
In an unexpected move, Abdullah Al-Thinni announced he was resigning as prime minister . . .[restrict]on television late last night. In what seems to have been an off-the-cuff, emotional response in tough questioning with Jordan-based Libya’s Channel TV, he suddenly said that he was going. He did not say whether he would stay on in a caretaker role while the UN-brokered dialogue comes up with a new government.
Although there was no explanation given for the surprise decision, he is known to have wanted to resign, having privately told a number of foreign figures with whom he met in recent weeks of his desire to go. In April, he publicly stated he did not want to be prime minister.
It is not known if the decision is related to an attack on him by UN Dialogue chairman Bernardino Leon earlier this evening. Asked by a reporter whether Thinni’s appointment of heads of parallel institutions loyal to his government and the House of Representatives was against the spirit of dialogue, Leon said that they were indeed against the spirit of the agreement.
The resignation, however, could help Leon and the Dialogue process. Leon has told delegates that he wants agreement on a government of national accord by the end of the month. With Thinni’s resignation, delegates now know they have to come up with a replacement quickly otherwise the country will be thrown into even deeper chaos.
However, if they do not, the House of Representatives is likely to nominate a successor of its own. On Monday, members debated whether should be drawn from a list of just two nominees or from one of six – two each from Cyrenaica, Fezzan and Tripolitania. They decided on the former. They also spoke openly of a number of potential names including those of Education Minister Fathi Al-Majbri, Shebani Abuhamouda (Libyan ambassador in France), Abubakr Buera (pro-federalist HoR member from Benghazi who is member of the Dialogue process) and Mohamed Al-Mnifi (former Libyan ambassador in Jordan and NTC member).
Thinni, whose family is from Ghadames, graduated from the Libyan military college in 1976 and eventually became a colonel before being arrested because of the regime’s suspicion of his brother, Bashir, a pilot in the Chad war.
He was appointed Defence Minister in August 2013 in Ali Zeidan’s government, and then when the General National Congress sacked Zeiden in March 2014, was asked to stand in as caretaker prime minister, initially for a fortnight, but this was extended. A month later he temporarily resigned after his home in Tripoli was attacked. The House of Representatives asked him to stay on at the beginning of last September. [/restrict]