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New Libyan PM Takes Office Under Police Escort

  • VOA News

Libya's new Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq speaks at a news conference with members of the government in Tripoli, June 2, 2014.

Libya's new Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq speaks at a news conference with members of the government in Tripoli, June 2, 2014.

Libya's new prime minister, Ahmed Maitiq, held his first official cabinet meeting Monday in Tripoli, after police helped him take over the office that his predecessor had refused to leave.

The North African country has been embroiled in months of violence and political turmoil, and outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni had refused to hand over power.

Maitiq arrived at the prime minister's office late Monday under police escort, just weeks after parliament chose him for the post in a chaotic vote that Thinni and his followers have refused to recognize.

In a brief statement after the cabinet meeting, Maitiq denounced fighting between militant Islamists and a renegade general that has left at least 20 people dead in the eastern city of Benghazi. There was no immediate comment from Thinni, who had earlier moved to another location in Tripoli.

Thinni resigned under pressure in April, but later said he had received conflicting orders from parliament about the legitimacy of Maitiq's May 4 election. Maitiq failed to get the required votes in the turbulent parliamentary poll before the session adjourned, but was later said to have gained the necessary support.

A day later, legislator Fatima Majbari called the vote a major violation of the law.

Libya has failed to unite since autocrat Moammar Gadhafi was ousted two-and-a-half years ago. It remains divided by regional loyalties, countless militias and increased terrorism.

Monday's fighting -- a continuation of weeks of violence -- again pitted Ansar al-Sharia militants against troops loyal to renegade general Khalifa Haftar.

The general touts himself as a nationalist who is waging a war to save the country from Islamic extremists.
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