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September 19, 2017

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Libya Congress elects rights lawyer interim prime minister

TRIPOLI -- Libya's Congress elected a human rights lawyer as interim prime minister on Sunday, a week after his predecessor was sacked for failing to present a Cabinet line-up that political factions could agree on.

Ali Zidan, also a former independent congressman, won 93 votes, securing a majority of those who voted in a poll to determine the country's leader for a transitional period of around 20 months.

Zidan's top priority will be to name a new government that congress approves. The ministers will also be pressed to provide basic services, restore security by creating a military and police force capable of asserting authority over disparate militias left over from the war, and unifying the country's tribes and towns.

One such militia, a radical Islamist group that now claims to have dissolved, 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.

US Envoy to Libya Vows to Follow Slain Ambassador's Line

The new US envoy to Tripoli vowed on Monday to follow the line of murdered ambassador Chris Stevens and support Libya as the two states work to bring the militants behind the September 11 attack to justice.

Veteran diplomat and Arabic speaker Laurence Pope, the new charge d'affaires at the embassy, had his first meeting with Libya's acting foreign minister Mohammed Abdel Aziz.

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