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Libya Gets a New Prime Minister - Or Not

Libya's Congress leader rejects the appointment of a new interim prime minister hours after he was sworn in.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 5/5/2014, 5:44 AM

Security at the entrance to the Libyan parliament
Security at the entrance to the Libyan parliament
Reuters

Libya's Congress leader on Sunday rejected the appointment of a new interim prime minister hours after he was sworn in, reports the BBC.

Ahmed Maitig thought he had secured the support of 121 deputies after several rounds of voting in Congress, but the process was held in a chaotic session, and acting Congress chairman Ezzedine Al-Amawi later declared the vote illegal.

According to the BBC, Al-Amawi asked Abdullah al-Thinni, who quit following a gun attack on his family, to continue as caretaker premier.

A prime ministerial spokesman told local TV that Thinni would comply with the request.

Maitig, from Misrata, was sworn in after the controversial vote was shown live on television.

He was initially reported to have secured 113 votes, falling short of the 120 required, the report said.

Deputy speaker Saleh al-Makhzoum later said Maitig had clinched 121 votes in the 185-seat chamber after voting resumed, but some deputies later claimed it was illegal because the Congress leader had already declared the session for voting over.

The vote was originally scheduled to take place on Tuesday, but it was interrupted when gunmen stormed the parliament - the General National Congress (GNC) - forcing the deputies to evacuate. The building has been stormed several times by gunmen over the last year and a half.

Elections for a new parliament that will replace the GNC are expected later this year, which is also expected to usher in a new cabinet.

The GNC was established after the revolt which led to the overthrow of former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Independent militias still control large part of the North African country, more than two years after Qaddafi’s downfall, and regularly fight each other as well as the country’s interim authorities. Terrorist groups have taken advantage of the situation and are training fighters on Libyan soil.

In October, Libya’s then-Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was kidnapped from the Tripoli hotel in which he resides, but was released several hours later.

In January, former rebels kidnapped five Egyptian diplomats in retaliation for Egypt’s arrest of a top Libyan militia commander. They were freed several days later.