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July 24, 2017

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Libyan assembly dismisses PM, rejects cabinet

TRIPOLI -- Libyan Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur was dismissed on Sunday after the General National Congress (GNC) rejected his proposed "crisis" cabinet of just 10 ministers, days after his first lineup was also turned down.

Mustafa 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 lineup 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 (GNC) 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.

The embattled Abushagur, who had been given 72 hours to come up with a new cabinet, was relieved of his duties after his last chance to form a government, and the GNC will have to elect a new premier within the next three to four weeks.

Before he had even put forward his second cabinet list in just four days, a motion of no confidence in Abushagur was signed by 126 assembly members.

That was rejected by the GNC president.

But when his pared-down list was put to the vote, 125 members of the 186 members present in the 200-seat GNC did not express "confidence" in his choices, against 44 members for and 17 abstentions, according to a live state television broadcast.

Under GNC rules, the assembly will now have to elect a new premier.

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

"In face of the dangers threatening the country, I present to you a crisis government restricted to 10 ministers, rejecting all geographical considerations," Abushagur earlier told the GNC.

He proposed a defector colonel who led the rebellion in the east against late dictator Gadhafi last year as defense minister and a police general for the interior ministry.

He was taking neither geographical nor political considerations into account, Abushagur said, criticizing the assembly for rejecting his original choices.

"The first government was not perfect. And we should have discussed and modified it," he said.

"I will not assume responsibility for a team that is not of my own liking," he said, and called on the GNC to "assume its responsibilities at this historic time."

Abushagur also accused assembly members and political blocs of blackmail.

"The political parties have decided to withdraw their confidence in me," he said, alluding to rumors of a deal between the rival liberal National Forces Alliance (NFA) coalition and the Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Construction Party.

The NFA of wartime premier Mahmoud Jibril was left off Abushagur's first cabinet list after failed negotiations, and the two blocs were reported to have agreed to form a unity government.

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