By Walid Abdullah
TRIPOLI, Libya (AA) – The passage of a law by the Libyan parliament to create a constitutional court has triggered controversy in war-torn Libya.
On Tuesday, the East Libya-based House of Representatives passed a law with a majority of votes to establish a constitutional court. The move, however, drew fire from the Tripoli-based High Council of State, which acts as a senate.
In a statement, the council said the move shows “disregard for the principle of separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary.”
"The parliament’s issuance of the law establishing a constitutional court violates the constitutional basis of this authority approved by the constitution of 1951, which stipulates that the judicial power is assumed by the Supreme Court and other courts established within the limits of the constitution, according to the law," it added.
Council chairman Khaled Al-Mishri, for his part, announced the suspension of communication with Parliament Speaker Aguila Salah until the law is revoked.
"We do not consider the law establishing a constitutional court to be among the legislative powers. Rather, it is a constitutional issue,” he said in a statement.
Al-Mishri said the parliament’s move “shakes the trust between the state and parliament, and demolishes efforts to reach consensus on the constitutional path.”
The Libyan parliament, meanwhile, defended the law, saying it “achieves justice and has no effect on the constitutional path.”
In a statement, Salih termed the law as "an affirmation of the protection of freedoms and rights and an addition of a specialized judiciary on constitutional matters."
Oil-rich Libya has remained in turmoil since 2011 when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was ousted after four decades in power.
* Ikram Imane Kouachi contributed to this report