Chaotic vote leaves unresolved dispute over Libya's new prime minister

Photo: Chaotic vote leaves unresolved dispute over Libya's new prime minister / Arab World

Ahmed Miitig, a businessman backed by Islamists, was named Libya's new prime minister on Sunday after winning a vote in parliament, a parliamentary official announced, Alarabiya reported.

After a chaotic session of the General National Congress (GNC), Miitig was initially reported to have received only 113 votes of 120 votes needed under the constitution in a vote of confidence.

But GNC official Salah al-Makhzoum later said Miitig had in fact clinched 121 votes in the 185-seat interim parliament, apparently after a recount, after beating off challenger Omar al-Hassi, a university professor.

A senior Libya parliament official announced Sunday night it did not recognize the new prime minister.

Ezzedine Al-Awami, the first vice-president of the parliament, said in the confusion of a vote taken by parliament, Miitig failed to get the necessary number of votes required.

Lawmaker Fatma al-Majbari, speaking to Al-Ahrar, also claimed additional votes were taken after the session was adjourned and after absent lawmakers were asked to vote after the session was terminated. She and another lawmaker who refused to be named said they will contest the decision.

"There are violations in today's session," al-Majbari told the TV station.

The meeting was the second time in a week that the GNC, Libya's top political authority, met to decide between the two candidates who were initially among a group of seven hopefuls.

Parliament gathered last Tuesday when 42-year-old Miitig won 67 votes in a first round ahead of Hassi with 34 votes.

A second round of voting was interrupted by gunmen who stormed into parliament, shooting and forcing deputies to evacuate the premises.

The GNC has been struggling to chose a prime minister to tackle growing lawlessness in the North African nation.

Parliament ousted former premier Ali Zeidan in March over his failure to rein in violence that has escalated since a 2011 uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

"I swear I will carry out my duties honestly and in devotion," Matiq told parliament as several seats appeared empty. "Thank you for your confidence."

Al-Makhzoum asked Matiq to form the new government within two weeks or sooner.

"The country can't bear any more delays," al-Makhzoum said. "We need a government to handle the budget."

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