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Libya chooses new prime minister in disputed vote

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-05-05

Businessman Ahmed Maiteeq has been chosen as Libya's new prime minister, a deputy speaker of parliament said Sunday, despite several lawmakers vowing to challenge the appointment, saying Maiteeq failed to win a required confidence vote.

"Ahmed Maiteeq is officially the new prime minister," Saleh Makhzoun told a chaotic session of the General National Congress (GNC), Libya's top political authority.

Maiteeq, 42, who is backed by parliament's Islamists, has been asked to form a government within two weeks. 

Secular lawmakers immediately challenged the move, saying Maiteeq had failed to win the necessary approval in an earlier vote to put him ahead of rival candidate Omar al-Hassi, a university professor who is backed by the hard-line Islamist bloc in parliament.

Critics say Maiteeq failed to obtain a quorum in a separate confidence vote needed to confirm his appointment. Only 113 MPs voted for him in the televised session, which was interrupted by shouts from dissenting lawmakers, falling short of the quorum of 120 votes.

“There are still discussions among Congress members,” lawmaker Abdulmenam al Yaseer told Reuters. “Some of them have asked to give more time for members who did not attend, while others said that Congress should keep the current government.”

Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni resigned three weeks ago after an attack by gunmen on his family outside his home.

No one was injured in the attack, which a spokesman for the former premier described as a "near miss".

Gunmen disrupt initial vote

Parliament started voting on Thinni’s successor on Wednesday but the session had to be postponed after gunmen of a defeated candidate stormed the building and wounded several people. A second-round vote between Maiteeq and runner-up Hasi was just getting under way when gunmen burst into the assembly.

Thinni resigned just one month into his term after replacing Ali Zeidan. Zeidan lost a confidence vote after militias in the volatile east seized an oil tanker as part of efforts to start selling Libyan oil independently of the government.

The parliamentary assembly is deadlocked between Islamists, tribal loyalties and nationalists, compounding a sense of gridlock in the country as Libya’s army tries to gain the upper hand against a wealth of rival militant groups, including tribal militias and Islamist extremists.

Libya's government and parliament have been unable to impose central authority on a country that has been awash with arms and rival militias since the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi.

In February it agreed to hold early elections in an effort to assuage the Libyan population, which is increasingly frustrated at the continuing political chaos nearly three years after the fall of Gaddafi.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP and AFP)

 

Date created : 2014-05-04

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