Libya’s Supreme Court has ruled that last month’s election of Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq was unconstitutional.
The country has, in effect, had two premiers since Maiteeq’s disputed appointment after a chaotic vote in parliament, as his predecessor Abdullah al-Thinni refused to hand over power.
Maiteeq says he will comply with the ruling, which reinstates al-Thinni as caretaker premier, according to parliament’s deputy speaker.
The move could reduce volatile political tensions in Libya and has already raised hopes that some oil ports, occupied for 10 months by rebels in Libya’s east, will reopen.
In April, rebels signed an accord with Thinni’s government to unblock the vital Mediterranean ports but its implementation stalled when they refused to deal with Maiteeq, a businessman.
Port rebel leader Ibrahim Jathran welcomed the Supreme Court ruling, according to a statement.
Thinni had originally resigned in April after what he said was a shooting attack on his family home by militiamen, but then refused to hand over power to Maiteeq pending the court decision.
Libya badly needs a functioning government and the reactivation of oil exports – the only notable source of state revenue – to prevent a wholesale collapse of state authorities.