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May 28, 2017

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Libyan leader presents diverse cabinet in test of fledgling democracy

TRIPOLI--Libya's new premier presented Tuesday a cabinet that includes liberals and Islamists, in a fresh test of the country's fledgling democracy after the 2011 armed uprising that ousted Moammar Gadhafi.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan told the General National Congress he had included the main parties, among them the liberal National Forces Alliance (NFA) and the Islamist Justice and Construction Party, while some top posts were given to independents.

The 30-member cabinet includes 27 ministers and three deputy prime ministers.

Zeidan was elected on Oct. 14 after his predecessor, Mustafa Abu Shagur, was dismissed in a vote of no confidence when the GNC rejected his cabinet lineup as unrepresentative of Libya's numerous factions.

His new government faces many challenges in a country still awash with arms and struggling for reconciliation more than a year after the end of the revolt that overthrew and killed Colonel Gadhafi.

Its chief task is organizing fresh elections within 12 months on the basis of a new constitution, which has yet to be drafted.

"I decided to put independents in charge of the ministries of foreign affairs, international cooperation, finance, justice, interior and defense," Zeidan said in a televised address to the GNC.

The assembly must approve the government team before Zeidan, a longtime Gadhafi opponent, can assume office and replace Abdel Rahim al-Kib, who has held the post since November.

Among Zeidan's nominations are Mohammed al-Barghathi as defense minister and Ashur Shwayel as interior minister, both natives of Benghazi, cradle of the 2011 revolt.

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