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Libya Has New Prime Minister Despite Controversy

  • Elizabeth Arrott

Reporters watch a live feed of Libyan members of parliament meeting to decide on the new prime minister at the parliament in Tripoli, May 4, 2014.
Libyan officials Monday confirmed Ahmed Maitiq as the nation’s new prime minister, after a stormy vote in parliament opponents say was illegal.

Ahmed Maitiq is Libya’s fifth prime minister in the two and half years since autocrat Moammar Gadhafi was ousted.

A government decree Monday, signed by the acting speaker of parliament, confirmed the selection of the London-educated businessman after a controversial ballot in the assembly the day before.

Maitiq failed to get the required votes in a turbulent session Sunday before the session was adjourned. He was later said to have gained the necessary votes, including from Islamist supporters, despite the earlier departure of many lawmakers.

Parliament member Fatima Majbari called the vote a major violation of the law.

She compared it to the irregularities surrounding the last vote of confidence in a previous prime minister, Ali Zeidan.

Zeidan, who was briefly kidnapped last year, is reported to have fled the country. His successor, Abdullah al-Thani, resigned three weeks ago after security threats to him and his family. The whereabouts of the parliament speaker, whose signature is on the decree approving Maitiq, is unclear.

Libya has failed to unite in the post-Gadhafi period, divided by regional loyalties, countless militias, and an increase in terrorist groups.

The U.S. State Department last week renewed its classification of Libya as a terrorist safe haven. The U.S. had a key role in a coalition that helped oust Gadhafi in 2011.