Libya's Prime Minister Ahmed Miitig holds a press conference in the capital Tripoli on May 21, 2014
Libya's Prime Minister Ahmed Miitig holds a press conference in the capital Tripoli on May 21, 2014 © Mahmud Turkia - AFP/File
Libya's Prime Minister Ahmed Miitig holds a press conference in the capital Tripoli on May 21, 2014
Last updated: May 25, 2014

Libya cabinet wins confidence vote in parliament

Libyan premier Ahmed Miitig's proposed cabinet Sunday won a vote of confidence in the embattled interim parliament, amid an atmosphere of lawlessness aggravated by power struggles between politicians and militias.

Miitig's cabinet is been due to replace that of Abdullah al-Thani, who resigned last month for security reasons, and as a rogue general gains support for an assault against Islamist militias in the east of the country.

"The vote of confidence was obtained by 83 votes out of 94 lawmakers present," MP Mohammed Laamari told AFP.

The General National Congress elected Islamist-backed businessman Miitig, 42, in a chaotic vote in early May, days after gunmen stormed the GNC to interrupt an earlier ballot.

He is Libya's fifth and youngest prime minister since longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi was toppled and killed in a 2011 uprising.

Miitig is due to lead a short transitional period until legislative elections are held on June 25, and the new parliament will replace the GNC and form another cabinet.

Sunday's vote of confidence had been postponed from Tuesday by the GNC at Miitig's request because he wanted more time to present a government of national unity in a bid to extract the country from a simmering political and security crisis.

The GNC has been unable to hold meetings since May 18, when an armed militia group from the western town of Zintan attacked the parliament building in Tripoli to demand the suspension of the body.

The same group repeated its threat on Saturday, saying that the GNC had no "legitimacy," forcing the interim parliament to convene Sunday's meeting in a former royal palace in the capital.

- Tight security -

Security was tight around the palace ahead of the vote, with Islamist militias that back the parliament out in force, an AFP journalist reported.

The GNC was elected in July 2012 for an 18-month term, but in February it extended its mandate to December, sparking widespread protests.

Parliament's Islamist supporters were in favour of the extension while the liberal National Forces Alliance slammed the move as undemocratic.

The GNC's critics have accused Islamist blocs in the assembly of being "complicit" with extremists groups, particularly in the east.

Since Kadhafi's fall, successive governments in the oil-rich North African nation have struggled to impose order as heavily armed former rebel brigades have carved out their own fiefdoms and refused to join the security forces.

In mid-May, former general Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive against Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi, cradle of the 2011 uprising and a hotbed of attacks against troops and police.

The GNC accused him of mounting a coup, but Haftar has said that he was acting on the "mandate" of the people who are fed up with the unruly ex-militias.

"We have accepted the mandate of the people," Haftar said on Saturday.

"The (people) have given their instructions ... We pledge not to abandon this mission until Libya is purged of terrorists and extremists and all those who back them," he added.

Army units and officers have joined Haftar's forces, and on Friday thousands of demonstrators rallied in support of his assault.

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