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Premier Thinni blocked from yet another flight

Libya’s prime minister Abdullah Al-Thinni was today stopped from boarding his official plane at Labraq airport for the second time in a week.

No details were given about who ordered the move nor where Thinni was heading, but it comes only five days after soldiers acting on orders from a top commander stopped him boarding a flight to Malta to address a conference organised by the National Oil Corporation.

It is the latest episode in a turbulent term in office for a prime minister who has been stopped from boarding planes four times, has resigned twice and once been attacked in his car.

In March guards at Labraq, the airport serving the present government base at Beida  prevented him boarding a plane in protest over his choice of Interior Minister. This protest came shortly after army units blocked his official car from taking him to visit the front line in nearby Benghazi.

In August 2014 it was Libya Dawn militias doing the blocking, refusing to let him fly out of Tripoli’s Mitiga airport as the city erupted into open war.

With Thinni narrowly escaping an assassination attempt in May close to the House of Representatives’ (HoR) headquarters at Tobruk naval base, he has had every excuse for quitting and has done so twice.

Less than a month into the his appointment as caretaker prime minister in April last year he resigned, citing threats to his family, but later said he had not submitted his resignation letter.

Then last month he again announced his resignation, this time live on television after a barrage of angry comments during a phone-in programme. “I officially resign and I will submit my resignation to the House of Representatives on Sunday,” he said. Later he changed his mind, officials saying he meant to say he would quit if the Libyan people demanded it.

Despite the turbulence, some see Thinni as Libya’s great political survivor. His appointment last year came out of the blue when, from defence minister, he was elevated to the top job. His predecessor, Ali Zeidan, had escaped via Tripoli airport fearing for his life when the General National Congress (GNC) tried to impeach him.

When the GNC was dissolved, in UN-supervised elections for the HoR, Thinni was chosen as the new parliament’s first prime minister.

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