Libya PM draws crowd for mass wedding and protest against parliament

·1 min read
FILE PHOTO: Libya's unity government Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah looks on at Libya's mission to the United Nations in New York

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Several thousand Libyans packed a Tripoli square late on Friday for a state-funded mass wedding celebration that also drew supporters of transitional Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah and protesters against the eastern-based parliament.

Dbeibah was installed in March through a U.N.-backed process to head a unity government after years of division between rival administrations in the civil war, and to prepare for an election.

The election is planned for Dec. 24 but there is controversy over parliament's handling of a law for the vote to take place and analysts fear the jockeying among rival factions could unravel the peace process.

Dbeibah has courted popular opinion with measures such as financial support for newlyweds but has faced problems with the parliament, which was elected nationally in 2014 but moved east as the country split between warring factions.

The parliament has not passed his budget and this week its speaker, Aguila Saleh, passed a vote to withdraw confidence from the government though some members of the chamber said he had falsified the vote count.

Saleh had earlier passed a law for a presidential election that his critics said was tailored to allow him to run without risking his existing role by stepping aside for three months before the vote.

Parliament has not passed a law for a parliamentary election.

Many of the people who attended the Tripoli wedding celebration on Friday were there to protest against the parliament and back Dbeibah.

"We are fed up with the parliament. We elected them and we now ask them to get out. They have become a real headache," said Ali al-Hamdi, 41, a shopkeeper.

(Reporting by Ahmed Elumami, writing by Angus McDowall; editing by Grant McCool)