Libya’s parliament has rejected what it called the British embassy’s “intervention” in the country’s internal politics.
The statement came after the UK said it recognised the interim Government of National Unity as the legitimate authority until the presidential elections are held.
In a statement issued on December 24, Libya’s Independence Day, the British embassy said it “continues to recognise the Government of National Unity as the authority tasked with leading Libya to elections and does not endorse the establishment of parallel governments or institutions“.
In response, the Libyan parliament in Tobruk, known as the House of Representatives, said it considered the British statement a “violation of diplomatic norms” and acknowledged the widespread dissatisfaction expressed by Libyan people across the country towards this sentiment.
“The foreign affairs committee in the Libyan parliament clarifies that the choice to keep or remove the current government is a decision for the parliament and all must respect the laws of democratic rule,” the House said.
Libya’s highly anticipated presidential elections were set to take place on December 24, but disputes over the final list of candidates have caused delays.
The country’s electoral commission has proposed January 24, as the new date for presidential and parliamentary elections, but an official date has yet to be announced by the parliament.
The delay has prompted mass protests.
On Saturday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi discussed the situation in Libya with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a phone call.
“The two sides agreed on the importance to intensify efforts and joint co-ordination to settle the Libyan crisis,” the Egyptian presidency said.
“The Egyptian president assured that his country is continuing efforts to bring the points of views among Libyans closer together to enable Libya to cross this transitional stage and activate the free will of the people in choosing its leadership and representatives.”
On Friday, when the vote was initially scheduled to take place, the US, France, Germany, the UK and Italy issued a joint statement calling for a new a date for it to be announced swiftly.
“We call on the relevant Libyan authorities to respect the aspirations of the Libyan people for prompt elections,” they said.
Libya has been in a state of civil war between rival power centres in the west and east – a government based in Tripoli and the parliament based in the eastern city of Tobruk.
UN-mediated negotiations in October last year led to a ceasefire and the formation of the Government of National Unity.
However, fears of violence are mounting now that the presidential vote’s fate is unclear and the transitional government’s mandate has ended.
Libya celebrated its 70th anniversary on Friday.