BREAKING: Prime Minister al-Thinni announces resignation live on air

Libya Channel and Reuters

Libya’s internationally-recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni resigned during a live interview with Libya Channel late Tuesday, vowing to officially notify the parliament of his decision next week.

The sudden move came after the channel’s political talk show “Sijal” presented him with footage of angry citizens mostly from Benghazi criticizing his cabinet for being ineffective.

“I officially resign and I will submit my resignation to the House of Representatives on Sunday,” he said on air late Tuesday from Bayda.

“It’s over,” he added.

Libya Channel presenter Mohamed Zeidan, who conducted the interview, asked the premier if his shock decision had anything to do with recent misunderstandings and disputes with the official legislature the House of Representatives.

“It isn’t because of the parliament, if the street wants this I resign,” the premier replied.

Thinni had just been confronted with vox pops of Libya Channel’s viewers denouncing him for the lack of security, government services and poor handling of aid for displaced people.

Talk show host Zeidan queried whether the footage had pushed the PM to make the snap decision in anger.

But describing himself as the “stone that blocks the road to the Libyan state”, Thinni assured the channel his mind was made up and he would save the people the need “to go out into the streets to protest”.

“They can bring a new prime minister with magic to solve all the problems,” he added.

Thinni has been in office since March 2014. He had said in April 2014 he would resign, saying his family had been attacked but later changed his mind and stayed on.

His cabinet, working out of hotels, has struggled to make an impact in the remote eastern city of Bayda, while citizens complained about shortages of fuel and hospital drugs and a worsening security situation.

Ministries and key state buildings in Tripoli are under the control of the rival administration with its own premier that has not been recognized by world powers.

Libya’s east has been especially hit hard by the chaos as fighting between forces allied to Thinni and Islamist groups in Benghazi has choked off wheat and fuel imports. The violence has also disrupted the power grid.

Libya also struggles with a public finance crisis as the chaos has cut oil production to a quarter of what the OPEC member used to pump before Gaddafi was ousted.

Critics say Thinni’s cabinet mainly puts out statements that have no relevance. On Monday, Thinni’s government said that Tripoli International Airport would be renamed after the late King Idris, toppled by Gaddafi in 1969.

The airport has been out of action since it was damaged when a rival faction seized Tripoli a year ago. Thinni’s administration has no control of the airport.

“His government is a failure,” Benghazi lawmaker Amal Bayou posted on her Facebook website in reaction to the resignation announcement, calling Thinni incompetent.

In this article