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Court rules election of Libya PM Miitig unconstitutional

Libya's supreme court on Monday ruled as unconstitutional the election of premier Ahmed Miitig in a chaotic parliamentary session, raising hopes for a possible solution to the country's smouldering political crisis.

TRIPOLI: Libya's supreme court on Monday ruled as unconstitutional the election of premier Ahmed Miitig in a chaotic parliamentary session, raising hopes for a possible solution to the country's smouldering political crisis.

Outgoing prime minister Abdullah al-Thani had refused to recognise Miitig's government, saying he would await the judiciary's decision before handing over power.

But Miitig convened his first cabinet meeting last week despite Thani's objections, and the two rival premiers disputed power in Tripoli, laying claim to the North African nation's huge reserves from oil and gas.

"The court has judged the election of Miitig at the General National Congress (the interim parliament) as unconstitutional," a judge at the court said on Monday after a short hearing.

The ruling will be examined by the administrative court on Monday, lawyers said.

Thani announced his resignation earlier this year after an armed attack on his family, but he insisted that his successor should be chosen by a new parliament rather than its contested predecessor and refused to recognise Miitig's cabinet.

Miitig, 42, an independent backed by the Islamists, had been due to lead the country for a short interim period until June 25, when the country is due to hold an election to replace the congress.

Miitig did not immediately comment. If he accepts the court's decision, Thani is expected to remain in office until the June 25 vote is held.

Miitig's election took place at a second session of the GNC in early May, days after gunmen stormed the building to interrupt an earlier ballot.

Several liberal lawmakers accused Islamist blocs within the interim parliament of allowing late arrivals at the session to cast their votes after the initial result was announced to make up the 121 votes needed, after Miitig had garnered only 113 votes.

The GNC's vice-president, liberal MP Ezzedine al-Awami, called Miitig's installation as prime minister a "coup d'etat."

The GNC was elected in July 2012, in Libya's first ever free polls, almost one year after the revolution which ousted the regime of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Its legitimacy was challenged after the GNC prolonged its mandate, due to expire last February, until December 2014.

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