Libyan premier wins congress backing after renegade general's threats

by Reuters
Sunday, 25 May 2014 18:16 GMT

(Updates with comments from lawmaker)

By Ahmed Elumami

TRIPOLI, May 25 (Reuters) - Libya's new Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq won a vote of confidence from parliament on Sunday in defiance of a renegade former army general who has challenged the assembly's legitimacy.

Maiteeq, backed by the Muslim Brotherhood which is fiercely opposed by anti-Islamist forces in Libya, was initially elected two weeks ago after a chaotic parliamentary session that some lawmakers had rejected as illegal.

Lawmakers met again on Sunday under heavy security to vote to approve Maiteeq's government a week after militia forces loyal to former army general Khalifa Haftar attacked the congress to demand lawmakers hand over power.

"The congress has granted Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq its confidence. Out of 95 members, 83 voted in favour of his government," Abdulhamid Ismail Yarbu, an independent lawmaker told Reuters.

Another lawmaker confirmed the votes for Maiteeq, a businessman who will be Libya's third premier since March after months of unrest in the OPEC oil producer.

Libya's legislature is at the centre of a growing standoff between anti-Islamist forces claiming loyalty to Haftar, and the pro-Islamist parties and militias he has promised to purge from the North African country.

The Europe Union's special envoy on Sunday called the crisis Libya's worst since the 2011 war ousted Muammar Gaddafi with the fragile government struggling to control brigades of former rebels and militias who are the country's main powerbrokers.

Three years after a NATO-backed revolt toppled Gaddafi, Libya still has no national army, no new constitution and its parliament is caught up in infighting.

Powerful rival brigades of former rebel fighters often make demands on the weak state, with each loosely allied with competing Islamist and anti-Islamist political forces squaring off for control. (Additional reporting by Ulf Laessing; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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