Libyan asembly elects former diplomat as prime minister

Reuters Africa

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libya’s national assembly elected a new prime minister on Sunday, the second within a month to face the daunting challenge of forming a government acceptable to the country’s many factions.

Ali Zeidan speaks during a conference on Libya, in Doha May 11, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous

Ali Zeidan, a former career diplomat who had defected in the 1980s to become an outspoken critic of Muammar Gaddafi, was elected in a televised count just a week after the last prime minister was dismissed in a vote of no confidence.

Mustafa Abushagur was dismissed after his choice of ministers ran into protests both from within the assembly and from outside.

Libya desperately needs a viable government so that it can focus on reconstruction and healing divisions opened up by the war which toppled Gaddafi last year.

Zeidan told a news conference he would focus on restoring security to Libya.

“The security file will be my top most priority because all the problems that Libya suffers from stems from security issues. The government will be an emergency government to solve the crises that the country is going through.”

Zeidan, who had support from the leading liberal coalition, the National Forces Alliance, also suggested, however, that he was ready to take into account the views of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood in his government.

“Islam is our belief system and the source for any jurisprudence, and anything against sharia is refused,” he said.

Gaddafi kept Libya broadly secular, but the uprising which toppled him has paved the way for the emergence of both Islamist and more secular factions, as well as opening up tribal and regional divisions in the North African country. Reuters

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