Libya's parliament votes to remove PM from post

Associated Press Modified: October 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm •  Published: October 7, 2012
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TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libya's parliament ousted the country's new prime minister in a no-confidence vote on Sunday, the latest blow to hopes that political factions could agree on a government charged with restoring stability after last year's civil war.

Mustafa Abushagur was the first prime minister to be elected after the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. He represented an offshoot of the country's oldest anti-Gadhafi opposition movement, and was considered a compromise candidate acceptable to both liberals and Islamists.

But his proposed Cabinet was struck down by a legislature representing dozens of divided tribes, towns, and regions across the country, many of whom feel they are owed the spoils of victory over Gadhafi. He was forced to withdraw his first ministerial line-up under pressure and his second attempt to submit one resulted in his ouster.

In a short statement on Libya al-Wataniya TV after the vote, Abushagur said he respected the decision made by the General National Congress as part of Libya's democracy but warned of instability if it takes too long to elect his replacement.

"There should be quickness in the election of the prime minister and formation of the government so the country does not slip into a vacuum," he said.

He had 25 days from his Sep. 12 appointment by parliament to form a Cabinet and win the legislature's approval, but that deadline expired on Sunday. The Congress voted 125 to 44 in favor of removing him as prime minister, with 17 abstaining from voting. He had just put forth 10 names for key ministerial posts Sunday when the no-confidence vote was held.

Until a replacement can be elected by the parliament, management of Libya's government is in the hands of the legislature.

The Congress will have to vote on a new prime minister in the coming weeks. The incoming leader will be responsible for rebuilding Libya's army and police force and removing major pockets of support for the former regime.

On Sunday, around 1,000 people protested in the capital Tripoli outside the congressional headquarters to demand that militias operating alongside the army end a partial siege of the town of Bani Walid, considered a major stronghold of former regime loyalists. They called for a peaceful solution to the standoff that has already sent families fleeing from the town in anticipation of a strike.

Perhaps the single greatest challenge facing any new Libyan leader is the proliferation of ex-rebel militias. One radical Islamist group has been linked to the attack last month on the U.S. Consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi that killed the American ambassador and three others.

There has been a widespread popular backlash against militias since that attack, and the Libyan government has taken advantage of it to try to put some armed groups under the authority of military officers. But some militias have resisted any attempt to fully control them or disarm them.

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