Libya's Presidential Council on Thursday urged the unity government to continue its work after lawmakers this week passed a vote of no confidence in the government, impeding efforts to unite the oil-rich North African country.
In a statement, the Presidential Council called on Libya's "legislative authorities to assume its national and legal responsibility to achieve the required legislations needed for the electoral process (scheduled for Dec. 24)."
Eighty-nine of the 113 lawmakers who attended the lower house session in the eastern city of Tobruk voted to withdraw confidence from the Tripoli-based administration of interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah on Tuesday.
But an upper house based in the capital rejected the vote, saying it violated established procedures, laying bare once more the extent of divisions between the country's east and west.
The latest escalation came amid tensions between the House of Representatives and Dbeibah's government, which took office earlier this year with a mandate to guide the North African country to elections on Dec. 24. Those polls look increasingly unlikely to happen amid the escalating political wrangling, casting doubt on a United Nations-led process aimed at ending a decade of violence since the fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
But Dbeibah insisted Tuesday that elections must take place.
"I reaffirm our determination to continue what we have begun," he said in the western city of Zawiya.
"I say no to war, yes to elections for a united Libya."
Tuesday's lower house vote, in a closed session overseen by speaker Aguila Saleh, came less than two weeks after he outraged opponents by ratifying an electoral law seen as bypassing due process and favoring eastern-based putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar.
Haftar had waged a yearlong assault on Tripoli, leaving thousands dead, before reaching a formal cease-fire with his western opponents in October last year.
Following the vote of no confidence, Haftar announced Wednesday he was suspending his military activities, a step which could lead to his candidacy in elections later this year.
While the ensuing United Nations-led peace process has led to a period of calm, wrangling over electoral laws and the presence of foreign forces has complicated moves toward more permanent peace.
The U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) expressed concern at Tuesday's developments and urged the parliament "and all relevant institutions and political actors to remain focused on completing the preparation of the constitutional and legislative framework" for the Dec. 24 vote.
The transitional administration "remains the legitimate government up until it is replaced by another government through a regular process, following the elections," UNSMIL added.