New Libyan PM forms government, heavy gunfire in Tripoli

by Reuters
Sunday, 18 May 2014 14:03 GMT

By Ahmed Elumami

TRIPOLI, May 18 (Reuters) - Libya's new Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq has formed a government pending parliamentary approval this week, officials said on Sunday, after the country went nearly two months without a functioning government.

In the capital heavy gunfire could be heard, according to residents, although the target of the shots from anti-aircraft weapons and rocket propelled grenades, was not immediately clear.

Libya, a major oil producer, badly needs a government to try to impose some authority on a country effectively ruled by the militias who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 revolt but now defy the state.

In March, the General National Congress (GNC) assembly ousted the then prime minister Ali Zeidan over his handling of a crisis in which rebels in the eastern city of Benghazi attemped to sell oil bypassing Tripoli.

Zeidan's successor, Abdullah al-Thinni, resigned last month because of an attack by gunmen on his family.

Maiteeq, a hotel entrepreneur, emerged as the new premier in a vote earlier this month that was disputed by lawmakers who say he failed to obtain the necessary quorum.

Maiteeq submitted his cabinet list to the GNC on Sunday, his media office said, without disclosing names of ministers. Parliament would hold a confidence vote over the new lineup within three days, officials said.

As one of his priorities, the new prime minister will have to deal with violence in Benghazi where irregular army forces clashed with Islamist militants on Friday, killing more than 70 people.

Since the civil war that ended Gaddafi's one-man rule, Libya's nascent democracy has struggled, with its parliament paralysed by rivalries and brigades of heavily armed former rebels challenging the new authorities.

Libya's parliament is deadlocked between Islamists, tribes and nationalists. The country's fledgling army faces challenges from unruly ex-rebels, tribal groups and Islamist militants. (Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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