Libya ex-PM Zeidan 'leaves country despite travel ban'

image copyrightReuters
image captionMalta's prime minister said Ali Zeidan's plane had flown to "another European country"

Libya's former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has left the country despite a travel ban, reports say.

Malta's prime minister said he had spoken to Mr Zeidan on Tuesday while his plane was refuelled on the island.

Prosecutors in Tripoli said he had been banned from leaving because of a probe into alleged financial irregularities.

Mr Zeidan was dismissed by parliament on Tuesday after a tanker laden with oil from a rebel-held port was said to have broken through a naval blockade.

Libya has been plagued by instability since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with the government struggling to assert its authority over the armed groups and tribesman who helped topple him.

'Making payments'

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told state-owned TVM television that Mr Zeidan had spent two hours in the country late on Tuesday.

His plane then left for "another European country", Mr Muscat added.

image copyrightReuters
image captionThe North Korean-flagged tanker docked at Sidra without the Libyan government's permission

Shortly after Mr Zeidan lost the confidence motion in the General National Congress (GNC), Libya's Prosecutor General Ridwan Jumua Abdul Qadir had instructed the head of the passport agency to add the former prime minister's name to a watch-list and to "prevent him from travel until he was brought to questioning", the Libyan WAL news agency reported.

Mr Zeidan was wanted in connection with alleged payments made to an armed group that had been besieging oil fields, it added.

image captionLibyan regions had federal powers from 1951 to 1963

MPs voted to dismiss Mr Zeidan and replace him with Defence Minister Abdullah al-Thinni on Tuesday after they were informed that the North Korean-flagged tanker, Morning Glory, had escaped from the Sidra oil terminal with at least 234,000 barrels of crude.

A member of the GNC's energy committee said bad weather had stopped Libyan navy ships from following the tanker out to sea.

Mr Zeidan had earlier insisted that the Libyan authorities had "complete control" of the tanker.

The Morning Glory was the first vessel to have loaded oil from a rebel-held port since a separatist revolt against the central government in Tripoli erupted in July.

Armed separatists have occupied three major eastern ports since August.

They are seeking a greater share of the country's oil revenues, as well as autonomy for the historic eastern region of Cyrenaica.

The GNC has ordered a special force to be deployed to "liberate" all rebel-held oil terminals. The operation is due to start within a week.

Libya's government has tried to curb protests at oil fields and ports, which have seen vital oil revenues plummet.

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