May 26, 2015 / 11:27 AM / in 2 years

Libya's parliament halts session as car burns outside

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Libya’s elected parliament halted a session attended by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni on Tuesday after protesters set fire to a car outside its base in the eastern city of Tobruk, lawmakers said.

It was not immediately clear what the protesters were demanding, but Thinni has faced increasing criticism in the east over the country’s political chaos since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and economic hardships including salary delays and power cuts.

It was the latest disruption in a tumultuous year for the assembly, which has struggled to stamp its authority over a increasingly fragmented country.

The oil producer’s new rulers had originally planned to set up a parliament in the eastern city of Benghazi, but after that turned into a battleground between the government and Islamist fighters, moved the assembly in August to the remote coastal city of Tobruk near the Egyptian border.

They first opened it in a hotel, but then moved it to the naval base after a suicide bomber detonated a car in front of the building in December.

Deputies shut the assembly after the car caught fire outside the naval base on Tuesday, and resumed after Thinni left, said Farraj Hashem, a spokesman for the House of Representatives.

Thinni himself has been working out of the eastern city of Bayda, along the coast from Tobruk, since losing the capital Tripoli to a rival group which has set up an alternative administration.

Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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